SDF Teams search after tree falls on crowd in Whittier, CA

SDF Teams Search for Survivors After Tree Falls on Wedding Party Photo Shoot

What began as a beautiful celebration ended in tragedy the afternoon of December 17th, when a large eucalyptus tree fell on a wedding party taking photos in Whittier, CA. Sadly, the mother-of-the-bride was killed and several others injured after the tree landed where they were shooting photos after their wedding ceremony. Rescue crews were able to pull everyone from beneath the 80-foot tree and SDF-trained Search Teams with Los Angeles County Fire Department, Gary Durian & Tanker and Manny Sampang & Eva, were brought in to confirm that no one else was trapped underneath the heavy branches.

While this type of deployment is very unexpected, it shows the versatility in using these disaster Search Dogs as valuable resources for both local incidents like this and during larger scale urban scenarios such as the Nepal earthquake last year.

Handler Manny Sampang shared the teams' search strategy during his first deployment with canine partner Eva:

“Gary and Tanker arrived on the scene first and Tanker had already made a run. Though he showed interest in a couple areas, Tanker did not alert that anyone was trapped. I ran Eva to confirm Tanker’s search and she too showed interest in the same locations but did not alert. We believe both dogs caught scent of people that had been in those locations but already brought to safety. Eva operated exactly how we have trained for her to perform on deployment and there were no surprises. I’m really pleased with how well Eva did."

Our hearts go out to the family of the wedding party and wish those injured a speedy recovery.

Read more of the story here.

Photo courtesy of Gary Durian.