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October 20, 2017

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Report: No equipment problems in Metro officer’s fatal fall from helicopter

David Vanbuskirk Funeral Service

North Las Vegas Police honor guard members stand at the side of the casket of search and rescue officer David Vanbuskirk as a visitor pays his respects during a visitation and funeral service, Monday, July 29, 2013, in Henderson, Nev. Launch slideshow »
David Vanbuskirk

David Vanbuskirk

An investigation into the death of a Metro Police officer who fell during a helicopter rescue mission found no “abnormalities” in a harness or other equipment, according to a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Officer David Vanbuskirk died July 22 after he became detached from the harness and cable used to lower and raise rescue personnel from the helicopter.

Vanbuskirk was part of a search and rescue team responding to a report of a stranded hiker on Mount Charleston.

Vanbuskirk had secured the hiker to the harness to raise him to the helicopter when the officer fell to his death. The hiker was safely rescued.

After examining the equipment, investigators found “the assembly and harness revealed no abnormalities,” according to the report issued Tuesday.

The flight crew included two commercial pilots, three crewmen, a crew chief, a hoist operator and Vanbuskirk, a search and rescue officer with several years of experience. The rest of the crew and the hiker did not sustain any injuries. There was no damage to the helicopter, investigators found.

The helicopter took off about 9:50 p.m. from North Las Vegas. The fall occurred about 10:20 p.m.

The crew told investigators Vanbuskirk fell while the hiker was being hoisted off the side of the mountain into the helicopter.

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