Sheriff: Metro officer died in routine rescue of hiker - WFXG FOX 54 - News Now

Sheriff: Metro officer died in routine rescue of hiker

Metro identified the fallen officer as 13-year veteran David Vanbuskirk, 36. (Source: LVMPD) Metro identified the fallen officer as 13-year veteran David Vanbuskirk, 36. (Source: LVMPD)
Metro Search & Rescue was called late Monday night to help a stranded hiker at Mt. Charleston. The rescue operation led to the fall death of a 13-year veteran of the department. (Armando Navarro/FOX5) Metro Search & Rescue was called late Monday night to help a stranded hiker at Mt. Charleston. The rescue operation led to the fall death of a 13-year veteran of the department. (Armando Navarro/FOX5)
MT. CHARLESTON, NV (FOX5) -

A Las Vegas Metro police Search & Rescue officer who fell down a canyon at Mt. Charleston during a hiker rescue died doing something he has done dozens of times, according to Sheriff Doug Gillespie.

Gillespie addressed media late Tuesday morning, several hours removed from the fall death of Officer David Vanbuskirk.

"This officer dedicated his life to saving people and that act ultimately cost him his own life," said Gillespie.

The police department said Vanbuskirk, 36, had descended and successfully retrieved a stranded hiker just above Mary Jane Falls at Mt. Charleston at about 8:50 p.m. Monday.

Gillespie said both officer and hiker were in the process of being lifted to the helicopter when Vanbuskirk detached from the hoist and fell into the canyon. The 13-year veteran died on impact, according to Gillespie.

The hiker was safely hoisted into the aircraft, police said.

It was not known how far the officer fell or if equipment failure was a factor in the incident.

Metro Assistant Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said early Tuesday the area was too remote to attempt a rescue by foot so they used the helicopter.

Gillespie did not release much information on the male hiker at the center of the rescue.

The news conference Tuesday was attended by several officers who were wearing badges with black bands around them, which is customary following the death of a law enforcement member. The flags at Metro headquarters are also at half staff.

The police department will investigate, and they said the NTSB and OSHA will conduct their own investigation of the incident.

Lombardo said the department is "a big family and this is going to be trying on us for quite a while."

Vanbuskirk is the first officer death the department has had since 2009 and the 22nd in the sheriff's office and Las Vegas Police Department's combined history.

"Whether it's search and rescue going on or life on the street of a patrol man, it's dangerous work and sometimes these things happen," said Sgt. Tom Harmon, director of the police union's Employees Assistant Program.

Harmon said his organization has been busy making sure Vanbuskirk's family and co-workers are getting the help they need.

"From the moment we find out we get word of what happened, we just kind of fan out and we go to different groups of people who are most effected by the event," Harmon said.

"My employees are very special individuals, and on a day like this you appreciate them more than ever," Gillespie told the media Tuesday.

Copyright 2013 KVVU (KVVU Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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