LVMPD Sheriff Douglas Gillespie comments on the tragic death of Search & Rescue officer David Vanbuskirk. Officer Vanbuskirk died July 22, 2013 from a fall, while performing a helicopter rescue of a stranded hiker. He was 36 years old.
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department has identified the search and rescue officer that was killed during a rescue Monday night as 36-year-old David Vanbuskirk.
Sheriff Doug Gillespie held a press conference at 10:30 a.m. to talk about the incident.
According to Gillespie, a call was received shortly before 9 p.m. Monday night that a hiker was stranded in the Mary Jane Falls area on Mount Charleston.
The disoriented hiker was located on a rock ledge and a helicopter was brought in to retrieve the hiker because of the dangerous terrain.
Vanbuskirk was lowered to the hiker where he attached the hiker to a hoist cable to be pulled up into the helicopter.
Somehow, the search and rescue officer became detached from the hoist cable in the process and fell into the canyon below.
Other search and rescue team members were able to reach Vanbuskirk quickly but the sheriff described it as an "unsurvivable fall."
The hiker was hoisted to safety.
Sheriff Gillespie said it is "always a dark day when you lose one of your own."
He said that Vanbuskirk had been with Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department since 1999 and joined the search and rescue team in 2007.
He also described the rescue as "routine" and said that Vanbuskirk had done "dozens" of such rescues.
The sheriff described Vanbuskirk as a "local boy born and raised" and said that he had an extended family.
Sheriff Gillespie told the media that the family was dealing with the incident as well as they could under the circumstances.
A fellow officer told Action News that Vanbuskirk attended Green Valley High School and was in the United States Army before becoming a Las Vegas police officer.
Flags around the city will be flown at half staff Tuesday and officers' badges will be shrouded in memory of Vanbuskirk.
An investigation into the accident will be conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board, Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the LVMPD.
Vanbuskirk is the first police officer to be killed in the line of duty since 2009 and the 18th such death in the history of the department.