Las Vegas cop killed rescuing stranded hiker

David Vanbuskirk, 36, became separated from the hiker at some point during the rescue and fell from a cliff


Associated Press

LAS VEGAS — A Las Vegas police officer who was trying to rescue a stranded hiker on a mountain northwest of the city died after falling from a cliff Monday night.

Las Vegas police assistant sheriff Joseph Lombardo said the area — which was just above Mary Jane Falls in Mt. Charleston — was too difficult to access by foot, so rescuers used a helicopter to hoist the hiker to safety.

Search and rescue officer David Vanbuskirk, 36, became separated from the hiker at some point during the rescue and fell from a cliff.

Lombardo didn't say how far the officer fell. Vanbuskirk had been with the department since October 1999, officer Bill Cassell said.

KLAS-TV reported the hiker reached the helicopter and was not injured.

TV cameras captured a procession of police cars driving through the dark with their lights on after the accident in a gesture of respect for the fallen officer.

"We're a big family, a close family, and this is going to be trying on us for quite a while," Lombardo told media. "We will survive it. We'll come back together, and hopefully in my lifetime, it will never happen again."

The National Transportation Safety Board, Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the police department will investigate.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press

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