Mission Accomplished

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A couple of good Samaritans in California are caught in that awkward maw between heroism and recklessness after some pretty interesting flying led to the rescue of two 11-year-olds last week. Using night-vision goggles, pilot David Gunsauls and helicopter owner Dan Kohrdt spotted Revina Dennis and her cousin Austin Rogers on a lava-rock-strewn hillside miles away from the ground party looking for them. Gunsauls toed the helicopter into the hillside while Korhdt pulled the kids inside. Flush with the success of the rescue, it was backslaps all around as the youngsters, who got lost while exploring the hills near Paradise, Calif., were dropped off to their families in a school playing field. It didn't take long for the local sheriff's office to distance itself from the celebration. "We did not ask for, frankly, nor did we support [the freelance operation]," Capt. Jerry Smith, head of the sheriff's department's aviation section. "That was a non-sanctioned event." His team was waiting for daylight to launch. Now, it's not that Smith is entirely heartless. He told the Paradise Post the rescue "was a very heroic thing," but he also noted that if anything had gone wrong it would have been his department held liable. "Anytime we establish a relationship with a civilian component of the community, we assume responsibility for their actions," Smith said. The helicopter was in radio contact with the ground team.