I found this in Avflash.
Sounds to me as if they were pretty long on courage and professionalism. The sheriff not only lacked the equipment, but these two elements too.
A couple of good Samaritans in California are caught in that awkward maw between heroism and recklessness after some pretty interesting flying led to the rescue of two 11-year-olds last week. Using night-vision goggles, pilot David Gunsauls and helicopter owner Dan Kohrdt spotted Revina Dennis and her cousin Austin Rogers on a lava-rock-strewn hillside miles away from the ground party looking for them. Gunsauls toed the helicopter into the hillside while Korhdt pulled the kids inside. Flush with the success of the rescue, it was backslaps all around as the youngsters, who got lost while exploring the hills near Paradise, Calif., were dropped off to their families in a school playing field. It didn't take long for the local sheriff's office to distance itself from the celebration. "We did not ask for, frankly, nor did we support [the freelance operation]," Capt. Jerry Smith, head of the sheriff's department's aviation section. "That was a non-sanctioned event." His team wa!
s waiting for daylight to launch. Now, it's not that Smith is entirely heartless. He told the Paradise Post the rescue "was a very heroic thing," but he also noted that if anything had gone wrong it would have been his department held liable. "Anytime we establish a relationship with a civilian component of the community, we assume responsibility for their actions," Smith said. The helicopter was in radio contact with the ground team.
At What Risk?
Smith said the nighttime toe-in maneuver was too risky. "I would not have allowed our pilots to do that mission," he said. Korhdt heard about the missing kids on the 11 p.m. TV news and called Gunsauls, who met him at the airport. Their Bell 407 helicopter has both night-vision equipment and forward looking infrared equipment (the sheriff's choppers have neither). They first found the searchers and then "just followed the natural lay of the land" trying to put themselves in the children's place in terms of choosing a route. They spotted the pair glowing brightly in their night-vision goggles against the dull background of the hillside and went to work. Pete Cunha, a local California Highway Patrol pilot contacted by the newspaper, also said rescuers should have left the task to experts. "It's not a game for amateurs," said Cunha. CHP has a couple of night-capable Eurocopter 305s but won't fly them in rough terrain at night. He said the authorities have to keep control of !
these types of operations (even if they can't or won't participate in them). "If we allowed this kind of thing to continue, for instance, could you imagine the onslaught of good-minded people wanting to become involved in uncontrolled situations?" he said, likening the incident to volunteers with hunting rifles showing up at a police standoff wanting to help. "We simply could not have that."
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