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‘Good Samaritan’ public land searches sought in bill

The moon rises behind the U.S. Capitol Dome in Washington as Congress works into the late evening, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012 to resolve the stalemate over the pending "fiscal cliff." (J. David Ake/AP Photo)
The moon rises behind the U.S. Capitol Dome in Washington as Congress works into the late evening, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012 to resolve the stalemate over the pending "fiscal cliff." (J. David Ake/AP Photo)
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Updated: 5/23/2013 12:38 pm
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Joe Heck and U.S. Sen. Dean Heller today introduced legislation that allows expedited access to public lands for Good Samaritan search and recovery organizations so that they may conduct searches for missing persons.

According to a news release from Heck’s office, the legislation from the Nevada Republicans comes after the discovery of the bodies of Keith Goldberg and Air Force Staff Sgt. Antonio Tucker in the Lake Mead Recreation Area by Good Samaritan search and rescue teams.

In both cases, the volunteer search teams had to wait nearly one year to obtain the proper permits and insurance before conducting their searches.

"The families of Keith Goldberg and Antonio Tucker waited far too long before finally having closure on the cases of their lost loved ones," Heck said. "In both cases, qualified teams were delayed in making their searches due to unnecessary bureaucratic government roadblocks.

“Having thought about these issues as a former member of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s Search and Rescue Team, I joined with Senator Heller to introduce this bill because I believe Good Samaritan groups should have access to our public lands as quickly as possible. Families shouldn’t go months wondering what happened to their loved ones."

“The last thing families who have lost loved ones need is the federal government to stand in the way of recovering their remains. I am pleased to join with Rep. Heck to make sure that the dedicated men and women who volunteer to help their fellow citizens in times of tragedy are able to do so in an expedited fashion,” Heller said.

The Good Samaritan Search and Recovery Act requires that permits for accessing public lands be issued to groups within 48 hours of application and that groups are not responsible for obtaining an insurance policy given they waive federal government liability.

The month, Heck testified about this issue before the House Natural Resources Committee to highlight the bureaucratic impediments the trained, non-profit search teams faced prior to their searches.

– From news release

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