posted on November 20, 2013 19:21
A New York State Trooper was killed Wednesday after he fell 30 feet into a gorge at Letchworth State park during a training exercise.
Ross Riley was 44 years old.
He leaves behind a wife, New York State Police Station Commander Sergeant Heidi Riley out of Olean and three daughters under age 11.
Trooper Riley and several members of the Special Operations Response Team went to Letchworth to conduct high-angle rescue training.
State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico describes what happened….
“Trooper Riley and two other troopers descended about 70 feet down the side of the cliff to a ledge overlooking Wolf Creek. On that ledge they simulated the rescue of a life-size training dummy. The scenario was that would have been a person who fell over the side of the cliff who was on the edge. They simulated providing medical care. They had placed the training dummy into a stretcher and were getting ready to hoist the stretcher up to the top of the cliff. Just then Trooper Riley apparently fell backwards from the ledge where he was standing.”
Trooper Riley sustained critical head injuries. The troopers present attempted to save him with advanced life-saving techniques. He was pulled from the creek and taken by ambulance to Wyoming Community Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.
Trooper Riley was a combat Marine veteran from the Persian Gulf conflict. He was a 17-year veteran of New York State Police and had previously worked in Troop A Batavia in his career. D’Amico said he received commendation for his service during 9/11 at the World Trade Center site.
D’Amico says the SORT team, which is the organization’s SWAT equivalent, was an elite and close group.
“You know, all of us in law enforcement, we always look at each other as family and as a fraternity,” he said. “It’s even more so with our SORT people. They perform very dangerous jobs under a lot of stress. They work together all week long. They train hard together and for them it really is like a family. Obviously our thoughts and our prayers are with them in this time of grief.”
D’Amico says they don’t know what caused Trooper Riley to fall. He says training like this is common.