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Bernaillo County Sheriff's and Fire and Rescue hold join press conference on helicopter crash

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Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office Facebook Page
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Courtesy KOAT-TV
A still image taken from aerial video footage that shows the wreckage of a BCSO helicopter that crashed near Las Vegas, NM

Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) and Bernalillo County Fire Rescue (BCFR) officials held a joint press conference Monday afternoon, to discuss the latest information regarding the BCSO helicopter crash that occurred Saturday night that ended the lives of four first responders.

Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales said the four men on board were heroes.

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BCSO Facebook Page
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(Clockwise from top left) Bernalillo County Sheriff's Officer Undersheriff Larry Koren, Lt. Fred Beers, Deputy Michael Levison and Bernalillo County Fire Rescue Specialist Matthew King

“The four people that are deceased, they are bar none, heroes to us. Far before this incident. They were doing this type of work, rather it be rescues, firefighting or police work. All these people were dedicated, we understand that they loved what they did, to the point where I find some comfort in knowing that they lost their lives doing what they loved.”

The helicopter, whose designation was “Metro 2” was flying back to Albuquerque after conducting a series of water bucket drops and short haul equipment flights for fire crews battling the East Mesa Fire southeast of Las Vegas.

According to a timeline presented at the press conference, Metro 2 arrived at the Las Vegas airport at 6:22 p.m to refuel after a successful mission.

The crew then took off from the airport at 6:36pm and was flying back to Double Eagle airport in Albuquerque. The last known position of the helicopter was south of Las Vegas at 7:18 p.m.

Two New Mexico State Police (NMSP) officers were the first to arrive at the crash site and tried to render aid to the member of the flight crew.

NMPD, along with the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are all conducting separate investigations into the crash.

In the coming days, the helicopter wreckage will be transported from the crash site to a secure location for investigators to examine. The bodies of the four first responders were successfully recovered and escorted back to the Office of the Medical Examiner in Albuquerque.

BCSO/BCFR officials urged patience when it comes to the on-going investigations, saying that it could take several months before they are concluded. In the meantime,

BCFR Chief Greg Perez said the main focus is on supporting the families of the deceased and their staff.

“We know the most critical piece for us right now at this moment is to take care of the families and provide for them everything and anything they need.”

Gino Gutierrez was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. A lifelong resident of New Mexico, Gino found interest in broadcasting after falling in love with sports and sports broadcasting. He attended the University of New Mexico, where he majored in mass media journalism. While at UNM, he worked the New Mexico Daily Lobo, serving as both sports and managing editor. He can also be heard providing play-by-play commentary for the Lobo Hockey Network.