Border Patrol agents from Spokane played a critical role earlier this week in making sure Hannah Anderson, the subject of an Amber Alert that stretched from California to Washington, was reunited with her father.
Most of the time Customs and Border Protection agents are trying to keep people from illegally entering the United States. However when detectives in San Diego realized James DiMaggio, the man who abducted Hannah Anderson after reportedly killing her mother, brother and setting fire to his San Diego area home, may be trying to reach Canada, the Spokane sector stepped up patrols along the border.
There are still places you can walk and even swim into British Columbia and the Spokane sector patrols those areas from the air, on boats and even on horseback.
"The horses give us the ability to go through thick brush when normally an agent would have to walk," Calvin Davis with the US Border Patrol said.
However on Friday, when DiMaggio's car was found covered in brush in Ada County, Idaho, the Spokane sector's AS350 AStar helicopter headed south to help in the search effort to find DiMaggio and rescue Anderson. Local Border Patrol K-9 units also went to help track DiMaggio on foot.
"Border patrol agents are good trackers by tradition, but it's a lot faster with the dog and in places that are harder to track where you could possibly lose a trail a dog can sniff it out pretty easy," Chad Hickman with the US Border Patrol said.
In the end, DiMaggio's camp site was discovered from the air. U.S. Marshals first spotted a blue tent and then Hannah Anderson's blonde hair.
"There were several things going through my mind. Number one we definitely were not going to take our eyes off that tent until we had it covered by ground units and make sure that we determine for sure if it was or was not them," Steve Jurman with the U.S. Marshal's Service said.
Those ground units, specifically an FBI tactical team, were flown to DiMaggio's camp by the Border Patrol helicopter from Spokane sector. DiMaggio fired at FBI agents, who returned fire, killing him and successfully rescued Anderson.
The Border Patrol helicopter and its crew, who have not been identified, flew back to its base at Felts Field Monday.