Officer Dies in Fall During Rescue - 8 News NOW

Officer Dies in Fall During Rescue

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David Vanbuskirk David Vanbuskirk

MOUNT CHARLESTON, Nev. -- A Metro Police officer died following a rescue Monday evening at Mount Charleston.

Police identified the officer as 36-year-old David Vanbuskirk. Vanbuskirk, who was part of Metro's Search and Rescue team, was called to the Mary Jane Falls trail shortly before 9 p.m. Monday following reports of a stranded hiker.

Police could not reach the hiker because the hiker was stranded on a cliff in a remote location. Rescue crews used a helicopter for the rescue.

During the rescue process, Vanbuskirk lowered from the helicopter and retrieved the hiker, who Sheriff Doug Gillespie described Tuesday as disoriented. At some point, Vanbuskirk became separated from the hiker and fell. The hiker reached the helicopter and did not sustain injuries.

Vanbuskirk died from injuries sustained during what Gillespie termed an unsurvivable fall. Police would not specify how far he fell or what caused him to fall in the first place. Gillespie said Tuesday that Metro is looking into whether there was an equipment malfunction involved in Vanbuskirk's fall.

Read about Vanbuskirk's work with Search and Rescue

Vanbuskirk joined the department in 1999 and moved to the Search and Rescue team in 2007. He was one of just seven officers designated to lead a team. He was a Las Vegas native and was married.

Assistant Sheriff Joe Lombardo expressed his sadness regarding the police department's loss.

"This is obviously the most important time for us to rely on each other. We're a big family, a close family, and this is going to be trying on us for quite awhile. We will survive it. We'll come back together, and hopefully in my lifetime, it will never happen again," he said.

In the past 12 months, Metro has conducted 150 search and rescue operations, 130 of which involved the use of a helicopter. In those rescues, 173 people have been saved.

Police honored their deceased comrade with a procession of vehicles that stretched along U.S. 95 from Mt. Charleston to the Clark County Coroner's office near Alta Drive and Martin Luther King Boulevard. Flags will fly at half-staff and officers' badges will be shrouded Tuesday.

The National Transportation Safety Board, Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Metro Police are investigating this incident.

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