Search and Rescue team has advice for hikers after teen's deadly fall
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department's Search and Rescue Team has advice for hikersPhoto: Video by ktnv.com
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- The death of Bonanza High School senior Andrew Sasse has served as a tragic wake-up call.
The 17-year-old fell 80 feet while hiking with friends at Red Rock Canyon on Memorial Day. It was the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department's Search and Rescue team that was sent in to retrieve Sasse so his family could have a sense of closure.
It's the kind of recovery mission the team dreads. Their goal is to save lives, even if it means risking their own.
Action News has been there many times as Metro's Search and Rescue team has worked against all odds to bring people to safety.
Officers John Thayer and Mike Young are two of about ten people on the Search and Rescue team, and are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
"We're basically responsible for everything behind the pilots and the helicopter," said Officer Thayer.
There are also about 25 volunteers ready to help at a moment's notice.
"All of us have varying degrees of skill when it comes to climbing," Officer Thayer said. "We're all certified divers to do recoveries at the lake."
They undergo medical training while learning how to rappel cliffs, maneuver through rugged terrain and rescue people with a rope and helicopter.
"Getting to them is the hardest part," said Officer Young.
Sometimes their effort, through no fault of their own, just isn't enough. Last year, the Search and Rescue team had 174 calls for service. About 21 of those were fatalities, but more than 60 people were saved -- which the team says makes it all worthwhile.
"When you put that family member with the other family member, and you see the mom that sees her son, the wife that sees her husband and was extremely worried about them...that's what's rewarding for me," said Officer Young.
The Search and Rescue team does have some tips for mountain climbers and hikers of all ages and skill levels. Here are a few of their tips:
- Tell someone where you're going and when you should be back.
- Wear bright clothing that doesn't blend in with the scenery.
- Make sure to bring water, snacks, sunscreen, a flashlight and a cellphone in case you get lost.
- Always be careful to stay on the trails and avoid slippery rocks.