The Norman Transcript

Nation/World

July 30, 2013

Funeral, processions honor fallen officer

LAS VEGAS — Las Vegas police officers wearing olive search-and-rescue fatigues gripped a church lectern Monday, choking up as they remembered a colleague who died last week saving a hiker stranded on a mountain ledge.

Co-workers described David Vanbuskirk, 36, as a disciplined and humble man who rose before the sun, refused to take off his wedding band for training exercises and returned to the hospital the day after rescues to check on people he had saved.

“He was absolutely the best of us,” said Sgt. Gavin Vesp, who was Vanbuskirk’s supervisor. “He was a phenomenal human being.”

The auditorium at Central Christian Church, which seats 2,900, was near capacity for Vanbuskirk’s funeral. The church’s upper seating section was a sea of police officers in tan, many wearing a black stripe across their badges as a reminder of the death.

Authorities are still investigating how Vanbuskirk died performing a maneuver he’d done dozens of times before. The officer was on the search-and-rescue team since 2007 and worked for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department since 1999. National Transportation Safety Board officials said they expect to release their preliminary report later this week.

Rescuers responded shortly before 9 p.m. July 22 to reports that a hiker was disoriented and stranded on a rocky ledge just above Mary Jane Falls. A wildfire had been burning in the area, and park workers closed some trails.

After landing, Vanbuskirk attached a safety harness to the stranded man. Vanbuskirk signaled to the rescue workers in the helicopter to hoist him and the hiker from the ledge. But the officer somehow detached from the line in midair and fell.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Nation/World
  • Be ready for ‘prolonged’ Gaza war, prime minister says

    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Signaling an escalation of Israel’s Gaza operation, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Israelis Monday to be ready for a “prolonged” war, and the military warned Palestinians in three large neighborhoods to ...

    July 29, 2014

  • Deal to improve health care costs $17B

    WASHINGTON — A bipartisan deal announced Monday would authorize about $17 billion to help veterans avoid long waits for health care, hire more doctors and nurses to treat veterans and make it easier to fire executives at the Department of ...

    July 29, 2014

  • FedEx charges raising online pharmacy issues

    SAN FRANCISCO — FedEx Corp., the latest company accused in a federal probe involving illegal online pharmacies, says it will fight the charges that it knowingly shipped drugs to people who lack valid prescriptions....

    July 27, 2014

  • EU, U.S. seek to curb Putin’s Ukraine course

    BRUSSELS — Months after Russia annexed Crimea and stepped up support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, Europe and the United States are still searching for a way to persuade Russian President Vladimir Putin to change course....

    July 27, 2014

  • Fighting intense near crash

    DONETSK, Ukraine — Ukrainian armed forces mounted a major onslaught against pro-Russian separatist fighters Sunday in an attempt to gain control over the area where a Malaysia Airlines plane was downed earlier this month....

    July 27, 2014

  • Gaza war rages despite truce pledges

    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israel and Hamas launched new attacks Sunday in the raging Gaza war, despite going back and forth over proposals for a temporary halt to nearly three weeks of fighting ahead of a major Muslim holiday....

    July 27, 2014

  • Hamas fires rockets on Israel, ending 12-hour lull

    BEIT HANOUN, Gaza Strip — Hamas said it fired five rockets at Israel late Saturday after rejecting Israel’s offer to extend a 12-hour humanitarian cease-fire by four hours, casting new doubt on international efforts to broker an end to 19 ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Death shows Ebola can spread through air travel

    ABUJA, Nigeria — Nigerian health authorities raced to stop the spread of Ebola on Saturday after a man sick with one of the world’s deadliest diseases brought it by plane to Lagos, Africa’s largest city with 21 million people. The fact ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Police ID kids killed in Philly carjacking crash

    PHILADELPHIA — Two carjackers who fled after ramming a stolen SUV into a family selling fruit for their church, killing three young siblings, were still on the run Saturday as the reward for their capture topped $100,000. The children’s ...

    July 27, 2014

  • U.S.: Russia firing across border

    KIEV, Ukraine — Russia is launching artillery attacks from its soil on Ukrainian troops and preparing to move heavier weaponry across the border, the U.S. and Ukraine charged Friday in what appeared to be an ominous escalation of the ...

    July 26, 2014