Las Vegas officer plummets to death from helicopter hoist line during rescue of hiker
By The Associated Press
Published: Tuesday, July 23, 2013, 7:03 p.m.
LAS VEGAS — A Las Vegas police officer who was rescuing a hiker stranded in an off-limits area of a mountain northwest of the city died when he fell from a helicopter hoist line Monday night.
At an emotional news conference on Tuesday, police offered details about the accident that killed search-and-rescue Officer David Vanbuskirk, 36, at Mount Charleston.
Rescuers responded shortly before 9 p.m. to reports that a hiker was disoriented and stranded on a rocky ledge above Mary Jane Falls. The area was marked with signs warning hikers to stay out or face fines, according to Jay Nichols, spokesman for Spring Mountains National Recreation Area.
A wildfire now entering its third week has been burning in the area, and park workers have closed some trails to protect hikers from smoking material, ash pits and falling trees. On Monday night, conditions were breezy with a bright moon, officials said.
After landing, Vanbuskirk attached a safety harness to the stranded man. He signaled to the four rescue workers in the helicopter above to hoist them up from the craggy ledge, but then somehow detached from the line in midair and fell a “nonsurvivable” distance to the ground below, officials said.
The hiker was safely rescued and is being interviewed, police said.
Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie said Vanbuskirk had performed “dozens” of rescues like the one that killed him. Las Vegas rescue workers have completed 130 helicopter rescues in the past 12 months.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- ‘Holy grail of guitars’ for sale in April auction
- California man named as bitcoin creator denies involvement
- El Nino could bring relief to U.S.
- Spyware in government computers ‘has Russian paw prints all over it’
- Miranda read to sex assault accuser, 14
- Border Patrol ordered to stop shooting at vehicles
- Woman drives minivan with 3 kids into ocean
- Former National Security Agency contractor Snowden’s leaks to cost billions, take years to fix
- Accuser takes stand during court-martial
- Kansas public school funding unconstitutional
- Nuke plant safety improving, watchdog says — with cautions