Family of slain taxi driver Keith Goldberg on-hand for vote; commend Heck for leadership on bill; Local organization touts bill’s potential
(Greg Lemon) – Washington — Congressman Joe Heck (NV-03), on April 28, 2015, applauded House passage of H.R. 373, the Good Samaritan Search and Recovery Act of 2015, legislation that speeds access to public lands so that volunteer search groups can conduct searches for missing persons.
The bill passed the House 413 to 0 and now heads to the Senate where Sen. Dean Heller (NV) has introduced the companion legislation.
“Federal regulations shouldn’t stand between the family of a missing person and the closure that a family deserves,” Rep. Heck said.“The House has once again demonstrated strong bipartisan support for allowing Good Samaritan search teams to access federal lands to conduct searches for missing persons and I hope the Senate follows suit.”
Jodi Goldberg, sister of slain Las Vegas taxi driver Keith Goldberg, whose tragic story prompted Rep. Heck to introduce the bill, was on-hand for Tuesday’s vote with other members of the Goldberg family and commended Congressman Heck for his leadership on the bill.
“When a loved one goes missing the pain is unbearable, and there should be nothing that stands in the way of having qualified search teams help these families. I thank Congressman Heck for all of his hard work and persistence in getting this bill through the House yet again. My family hopes and believes that this will be the year Good Samaritan becomes law. Losing Keith was very painful for us but this bill becoming law would help his legacy live on.”
Dave Cummings, Commander of Red Rock Search and Rescue, the organization that worked with the Goldberg family to navigate the federal bureaucracy and eventually located Keith’s remains highlighted the effect the legislation will have for volunteer search and rescue groups.
“Again we are extremely pleased with Rep Joe Heck and the House for passing this bill which will aid volunteer search and rescue teams coast to coast in their efforts to serve families at a time they are needed most. This makes all the rules the same in all our national parks and eliminates costly insurances and speeds our deployment time which can mean life or death in some cases.”
The Good Samaritan Search and Recovery Act of 2015 requires that a decision on issuing a permit for accessing public lands be provided to groups within 48 hours of application and that groups are not responsible for obtaining an insurance policy given they waive federal government liability.
The Good Samaritan Search and Recovery Act was initially drafted in 2013 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. In Goldberg’s case, remains were discovered in less than two hours; in Tucker’s it took less than two days. The original legislation passed the House 394-0, but was not acted on by the Senate.
Congressman Joe Heck represents Nevada’s Third Congressional District in the House of Representatives. He serves on the House Armed Services Committee, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.