Hickory-based reporter Dave Faherty was following the search in a rugged area of the foothills when authorities asked for assistance from Chopper 9 overhead. “They asked us for help because they couldn’t locate the suspect,” says news director Julie Szulczewski. “We wanted to help them because it was a public safety threat.”
Andy Holt, who has been flying Chopper 9 for nearly two decades, was focusing on officers in the woods when he got the call. He landed nearby and two Burke deputies climbed aboard his six-seat helicopter. An officer on the ground reached the slain Forest Service officer and signaled his position to the helicopter with a strobe flashlight, allowing deputies to direct others to the scene. After about 30 minutes, the State Highway Patrol helicopter arrived to continue the search for the suspect, who was ultimately killed.
“Over the years, we have helped out law enforcement as needed,” says Holt, who flew H-53 Sea Dragons while he was in the Navy.