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Fallen Metro Officer a Member of Elite Team | News

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Fallen Metro Officer a Member of Elite Team
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Metro's Search and Rescue Team during flooding in September 2012.

LAS VEGAS -- Metro's search and rescue team is an elite group of officers. The officers are highly-trained and their work can take them to dangerous places.

On Monday evening, a Metro Police officer died following a rescue 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.

8 News NOW viewers first met Vanbuskirk six years ago, and most recently last September.

From a hiker who should have brought more water up to Mount Charleston, or a family involved in a bad all-terrain vehicle wreck at Apex, officers such as Vanbuskirk go on their brave missions, go home, and are back at it the next day, putting their lives on the line to save others.

At a moment's notice, Metro can fly anywhere in the county, rushing to the rescue.

"For us, it was pretty simple, run of the mill," Vanbuskirk said in a September 2012 interview.

In a swift water rescue carried live on Channel 8 last September as floods inundated Las Vegas, Vanbuskirk was the first lowered down from Metro's helicopter to save a driver surrounded by raging, rising waters.

"I asked her if she was OK, and then at that point, I just told her, ‘This is what I need you to do,'" Vanbuskirk said of the rescue.

Vanbuskirk was one of seven full-time officers on Metro's search and rescue team.

It was just last week when two of Vanbuskirk's fellow officers took 8 News NOW up in the air for a special training exercise.

Not knowing tragedy would strike eight days later, their spirits were high.

The chopper flew to the Las Vegas range, at the north edge of the valley.

At a moment's notice, an officer is hoisted down in the middle of the desert under the blazing sun. A few minutes later, the pilot circles around and brings the officer back up into the helicopter.

The pilots then fly in a canyon near Gass Peak, and the officer is on the ground again.

Last week, Metro said hikers in the valley's brutal heat often aren't prepared and get dehydrated.

"The most common type of rescue for us this time of year is lost hikers, or hikers that are stranded in rugged terrain and are unable to get themselves out," officer James Roberts of Metro's Search and Rescue team in a July 15 interview.

After spending hours with the group of officers, it was clear the entire unit loves their work.

"No matter what, all year long, day, night, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, we get called in for missions," officer Jimmy Rogan said.

With heavy hearts, they'll continue to save lives, always remembering Vanbuskirk, their comrade who gave his life in the line of duty.

Vanbuskirk was a 14-year veteran of the Metro Police force. His funeral arrangements are pending.

David Vanbuskirk
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