Las Vegas police officer dies rescuing hiker

This undated photo released by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Dept. shows search & rescue officer David Vanbuskirk, 36, who died last night, when he fell during the helicopter rescue of a stranded hiker. Vanbuskirk, became separated from the hiker at some point during the rescue and fell from a cliff. AP Photo/Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Dept.

LAS VEGAS Authorities say a Las Vegas police officer fell to his death while rescuing a hiker who was stranded in a forbidden area of the mountains northwest of the city.

David Vanbuskirk
This undated photo released by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Dept. shows search & rescue officer David Vanbuskirk.
AP Photo/Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Dept.

Police offered new details Tuesday on the fall that killed 36-year-old search and rescue officer David Vanbuskirk Monday night on Mount Charleston.

Police could not reach the hiker because the hiker was stranded on a cliff in a remote location, reports CBS affiliate KLAS in Las Vegas. Rescue crews used a helicopter for the rescue.

During the rescue process, Vanbuskirk lowered from the helicopter and retrieved the hiker, who Sheriff Doug Gillespie described Tuesday as disoriented.

Officials say Vanbuskirk had attached a harness to the hiker who was stuck on a ledge near Mary Jane Falls and had signaled the helicopter above to hoist them both up when he fell.

It wasn't clear exactly how far he fell.

Vanbuskirk is the first Las Vegas police officer to die on duty since 2009.

Police say he was raised in the Vegas area and was married.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and other agencies are investigating.

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