Bay Area Recovery Canines (BARC) is a volunteer canine search and recovery organization dedicated to providing agencies with with highly trained canines and handlers to assist in the recovery of missing persons.


On January 12, 2005, three members from BARC responded to a water search on the Potomac River.  The pilot of a medivac helicopter that crashed into the river was still missing.  Several agencies and canine teams responded working together to help look for the missing pilot.  BARC and canine Alley were given credit by the authorities for the find in their press conference.  Below is WUSA's story that evening where they mention Alley as the reason they were diving in the recovery location.

Body Of Pilot In Chopper Crash Recovered

Last Updated: 1/12/2005 11:29:28 PM


The body of the pilot killed in the crash of a Virginia-based medical helicopter in the Potomac River has been recovered -- still strapped in the pilot seat.

Maryland State Police say the body of Joseph Schaffer was found in the front half of the chopper -- which had broken away from the back half in Monday night's crash.

The helicopter - based in Stafford, Virginia -- crashed in the river near the Wilson Bridge. Federal investigators are examining work cranes on the bridge to determine if the chopper hit one of the cranes.

It could take up to a year to determine the cause of the crash.

The crash also killed paramedic Nicole Kieler. Flight nurse Jonathon Godfrey was the lone survivor.

Previous Report

The body of the pilot killed in Monday night's helicopter crash has finally been recovered.

Maryland State Police Sergeant Rob Moroney says the body of Joseph Schaffer was found just before noon about 40 feet from the crash site. Schaffer was still strapped into his pilot seat. The front half of the aircraft broke off from the tail.

A search team and rescue dog in a boat on the river located the body underwater.

Schaffer, a 30-year veteran pilot, died in the wreck near the Wilson Bridge, which also killed paramedic Nicole Kieler, whose body was recovered from the wreckage early Tuesday morning.

Flight nurse Jonathan Godfrey was the lone survivor. Godfrey remains in fair condition at Washington Hospital Center, where he is being treated for broken bones and bruises.

Meanwhile, investigators aren't ruling anything out as they try to determine what caused the helicopter to crash into the Potomac River near the Wilson Bridge.

Ellen Engleman-Conners is chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board. She says operator failure is one possibility, along with the weather, tall cranes in the area for building the new bridge, and birds, which could've become tangled in the chopper's engine. The wreckage is being taken to the NTSB academy in Ashburn, where investigators will take a closer look at it.

She also says four frames of a highway video taken on the Wilson Bridge will be examined at a lab in Washington. Although the video quality is poor, Conners says it appears to show the chopper losing altitude.

Authorities are also inspecting five cranes along the bridge, to determine if they might have been hit by the chopper. The two tallest cranes will be examined at seven am Wednesday.

Medivac Pilot Search 2005