MCAS Search and Rescue loses funding, will discontinue by 2017

YUMA, Ariz. – The MCAS Search and Rescue team otherwise known as SAR has been apart of the Yuma Community for 56 years. The Marine Corps just recently announced however that because of budget cuts the rescue unit will lose funding.  Maj. Greenberg says currently SAR uses the iconic Huey Choppers but they have become too outdated to continue. Maj. Greenberg adds it’ll save MCAS millions by switching to a civilian agency rather than replacing all the choppers with all new aircraft.

SAR pilot  Capt. Wes Urquhart recalls a time a civilian agency was called in. “When we got there the [agency] was already there and the guy was still stuck on his car stuck. They told us we have to wait till morning, ” he recalls. “Really there is no other agencies that can do what we do.”

At one point there were six SAR units throughout the country, that number is now two. The remaining rescue teams are in Yuma and Cherry Point North Carolina. Both will run out of funding by the end of 2017.

Capt . Urquhart says without a suitable replacement lives could be lost. “The implications are someone could get severely hurt.”

Many Arizona law makers have come out against cutting the program. Similarly in the city of Cherry Point they passed a resolution stating their opposition to cutting SAR. Cherry Point maintains there’s no other agency that could provide a similar service.

About The Author

Eduardo Santiago joined the FOX 9 and ABC 5 news team in February, 2012. That’s the same year KECY launched its very first local newscast. He has been covering local news in Yuma and the Imperial Valley since his start as a KYMA photojournalist in 2006. During his decade in broadcasting, Eduardo has covered some of the biggest stories in the Desert Southwest – from President Bush’s visit to Yuma, Ariz. to the uncovering of drug tunnels that span the US-Mexico border. One of the most memorable stories Eduardo covered was the 2010 Easter Earthquake that rocked the Imperial Valley, Mexicali, and Yuma. Eduardo, along with his news team, won an award from the Associated Press for best coverage of an ongoing story following the quake. Before he made his move to TV, Eduardo was just a kid born in East Los Angeles, where he spent his early childhood. His parents moved him to Mexicali, B.C. Mexico, where he did most of his elementary school education. He finally landed in El Centro, where he graduated from Central Union High School in 2005. Eduardo is currently a student at Imperial Valley College. You can find Eduardo hanging out in the Imperial Valley and Yuma with his family on any given weekend. His off-screen passion is playing guitar and sports.

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