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Sirens & Gavels

Mon., Feb. 21, 2011, 9 a.m.

Rescued boys’ family to honor flight crew

The family of two boys who were rescued by a Spokane County sheriff's helicopter crew last month will be thanking the crew at a special ceremony this evening.

Volunteer pilot Dave Valenti and Deputies Chad Ruff and Brandon Armstrong will be recognized at the North Spokane Library Branch, 44 E. Hawthorne Road. Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich will attend.

The boys, ages 7 and 9, became lost Jan. 16 as they hiked in the snowy Pine River Park area in north Spokane County.

Spokane Search and Rescue teams and the sheriff’s helicopter, Air One, were called out to assist regular patrol deputies after the boys were reported missing about 5:25 p.m.

The team used the helicopter's searchlight to find the boys on their second flight over the area. Ruff jumped from the craft as the crew performed a "one skid" landing on the hillside, the sheriff's office said.

He wrapped the 9-year-old with his flight suit after realizing he'd waded out into the Little Spokane River in a failed attempt to reach homes on the opposite bank, according to a news release.

The flight crew provided ground search teams with GPS coordinates and the boys and Ruff were removed by volunteers on ATVs. The boys have since recovered.

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