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Busy day for Sonoma Sheriff’s support helicopter

Henry-1, the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office flying support helicopter, was called into action for two very different uses on Saturday, May 23 – a hiker rescue and the capture of a felony theft suspect.

The helicopter, a Bell 407 GX, entered service in August of 2018, to replace an earlier aircraft.

At around noon, a hiker fell in Sonoma Valley Regional Park and sustained 'significant injuries to their legs,' according to the SOCO Facebook page. 'The hiker was also located in a remote section of the park, not accessible by vehicle.'

As a Sonoma Valley Fire and Rescue Authority personnel waited on Arnold Drive, the helicopter flew to the site of the injured hiker, who had been located by fire and rescue personnel, and dropped a flight officer on a 100-foot long line to the hiker.

'The hiker was subsequently packaged into a Bauman Bag rescue device and attached to the end of the long line,' read the report. 'The pilot then flew the hiker and TFO to an awaiting Sonoma Valley Fire & Rescue Authority ambulance.'

Later that afternoon, at 4 p.m., Sonoma County's Henry-1 found itself flying over Tomales Bay, in Marin County, helping an outside agency with a rescue.

A little over an hour after that, at about 5:30 p.m., the chopper was called back to Sonoma County for a vehicle chase on Highway 101, as a suspect fled the scene of a felony theft from the Santa Rosa Friedman's Home Improvement Center where he had taken a generator. The helicopter eyed the fleeing pick-up truck on eastbound Highway 37 near Sears Point, and followed it from the air as a growing posse of sheriff's vehicles from both Sonoma and Marin gathered behind it.

The suspect continued his flight as he entered Solano County, as CHP and Vallejo Police Department officers took over the pursuit. The suspect eventually drove his vehicle off the roadway and through a field in the unincorporated area of Solano County, near Benicia.

Khang Le, 44 years old, of Vallejo, was arrested for grand theft, felony evading and looting.

'Through a coordinated effort by multiple agencies, including the assistance of an airplane from CHP... the suspect was captured after running from his vehicle and climbing into a tree,' the post continued.

'The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office is dedicated to ensuring that people who commit crimes in our community are located and arrested for those crimes in the safest manner possible,' concluded the report. 'Occasionally, the suspects disregard public safety for their gain. In those cases, it is up to the Sheriff's Office to stop them while keeping the safety of our community first.'

Further information on the identity condition of the injured hiker remains unavailable at press time.

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