Reporting Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Rescue helicopter pilot Craig Benz says it’s been the busiest week for rescue choppers since the 35W bridge collapse.
Benz didn’t know Daisy Jo, who went missing in Elk River, but he knows her worth. He has a 2-year-old daughter. He flew the Elk River this weekend to try and find her.
“I was thinking just last night how nice it would have been to find her, Daisy, walking in one of the fields,” Benz said.
When he’s not on the ground with his own kids, he is in the air, a pilot with the Minnesota State Patrol. The program, which melds the perspective of patrol with the aerobatics of rope dangling rescuers, has only been in place two years.
Just this week, the team flew to try and help fourth-graders after a hillside collapsed. Then, the chopper rescued a hiker on Thursday and finished the week searching for Daisy Jo.
Benz says a chopper has unique advantages.
“It’s a time saver, an effort saver, saves from potential injuries to first responders,” Benz said.
According to Benz, it’s hard not to let a mission so heavy get him down, but he can’t.
“Once you get distracted emotionally, you’re no good up there,” Benz said.
He says his hopes always soar high, but he does know that what he might find may bring families to the lowest of lows.
“We’re hoping to bring some closure to the family,” Benz said.
He says the recovery of the 2 year old’s body was not the income anyone wanted but he says sadly, rescuers can only do so much.