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Events planned for Las Vegas officer who died during rescue

Events planned for Las Vegas officer who died during rescue

By Katie Crowther. CREATED Jul 23, 2013

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- The Valley is remembering the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officer who died Monday night, while trying to save a hiker on Mount Charleston.

Dave Vanbuskirk, 36, had been a member of LVMPD's Search and Rescue team since 2007. He joined the police department in 1999.

Investigators said he was lowered from a helicopter to get to a disoriented hiker, stranded on a rock ledge near Mary Jane Falls. But, on their way back up to the chopper, Vanbuskirk somehow became detached, and fell to the canyon below.

The hiker made it up alive and was treated at University Medical Center.

The National Transportation Safety Board, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and LVMPD will investigate the accident.

Vanbuskirk was a son, husband, brother and uncle.

Friends said he always put others first, and cherished being a part of LVMPD's Search and Rescue Team, which really was his extended family.

"I can't believe this," said Karin Strutynski, who volunteered with LVMPD's Search and Rescue team for nearly 15 years, and worked closely with Dave. "I'm so saddened by the news, because Dave was truly a great guy. He was the first officer to always come up and give me a hug. He did his job so well."

Strutynski finds some comfort knowing Dave died while doing what he loved, "In a sense, he sacrificed himself, so somebody else could live."

Dave trained at Sergio Penha's Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy in Las Vegas for the past 10 years. In that time, he had earned a black belt.

His friends at the gym said Dave's calling and passion in life was helping others.

"He was just an amazing guy," said Dave's training partner Rafael Penha. "He would give you the shirt off his back. He would help you with anything you needed, anytime you needed it. He always talked about his job, and how it was always his dream to rescue people and have a career that mattered. He loved what he did."

Sergio Penha's Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy will be having an "Open Mat" session from 12 p.m. until 2 p.m. on Wednesday, July 24. It's for people to come and share memories of Dave and participate in the sport he loved. They will also be accepting donations for his family. They gym is located off Spring Mountain Road at 3904 Schiff Drive in Las Vegas.

Also, Mount Charleston Baptist Church will be honoring Dave with a candlelight vigil Wednesday at 7 p.m.