In a region teeming with hikers, climbers, and outdoor enthusiasts, losing King County’s search and rescue helicopters would be a harmful blow to public safety.
But that’s exactly what officials are considering because of a budget cut and a $50 million county-wide deficit.
In 2015, the county sheriff’s Huey helicopter rescued 25 people from backcountry peril and retrieved three bodies. But the $500,000 annual cost for gas and maintenance alone makes the helicopter division a budget target.
Without helicopters, air-support help would need to be called in from distant counties or military bases, adding crucial emergency-response time.
King County Search and Rescue’s president calls the helicopters “an essential service.” Just last week, the county’s Guardian One helicopter helped search for an overdue hiker who got lost on Kaleetan Peak, near Snoqualmie Pass.
Read the Bellevue Reporter article.