Muleshoe superintendent’s son helps rescue teen hiker

Courtesy photo Navy pilot Lt. Brandon Sheets said he trains almost every day for a situation like the rescue he performed Tuesday.

Liliana Castillo

Lt. Brandon Sheets says he was just doing his job — piloting a helicopter under a bridge, next to a cliff, trying to rescue a child.

The Navy pilot and son of Muleshoe Independent School District Superintendent Gene Sheets flew a helicopter that rescued a 15-year-old girl Tuesday after she fell of a cliff into a river near Seattle.

Lt. Sheets and his crew flew the helicopter below the High Steel Bridge over the Skokomish River to get to the girl, who fell while hiking.

“She had life-threatening injuries,” Sheets said of his decision to fly under the bridge. “I thank God that every volunteer worked together to make it happen.”

Sheets said there was 15 feet between the rotor blades and the cliff wall and 15 feet between the helicopter and the bridge.

“There was nowhere to go,” he said. “It was like being in a big parking garage.”

Sheets said he and the crew maintained visuals on all sides until a man on the crew was lowered to bring the teen into the cabin.

“We train for this type of thing almost every day,” he said.

Gene Sheets said he wasn’t aware of his son’s actions until a friend called Wednesday morning and asked if it was his son he’d seen on Good Morning America.

“I got to the office and my son had e-mailed me the (television) clip,” he said. “Brandon said he was tired so he finished work and then went to bed and called us Wednesday evening. It was amazing.”

Brandon Sheets, who grew up in Abilene, Texas, has been in the Navy for nine years and served two tours on the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan, one in North Korea. He is stationed at Whidbey Island near Seattle.