Rep. Heck, Sen. Heller Introduce Legislation to Allow Good Samaritan Searches on Public Lands

May 23, 2013

Bill will help bring closure for families of missing persons

WASHINGTON - Congressman Joe Heck (NV-03) and Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) 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. This legislation comes following the discovery of the bodies of Keith Goldberg and Air Force Staff Sergeant 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 Heck/Heller legislation, the Good Samaritan Search and Recovery Act, will expedite that process and help bring closure for the families of missing persons.

"The families of Keith Goldberg and Antonio Tucker waited far too long before finally having closure on the cases of their lost loved ones," Rep. 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 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,” said Sen. Heller.

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.

Earlier this month, Congressman 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. Click here to see a video of his testimony.

A summary of the Good Samaritan Search and Recovery Act is attached below.

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