Trooper Ross M. Riley
New York State Police, New York
End of Watch: Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Tour of Duty: 17 years
Badge Number: 2105
Cause of Death: Fall
Date of Incident: November 20, 2013
Weapon Used: Not available
Suspect Info: Not available
Agency Contact Information
Superintendent Joseph D’Amico
New York State Police
Public Information Office
1220 Washington Ave Bldg 22
Albany, NY 12226
Phone: (518) 783-3211
Trooper Ross Riley died after falling approximately 30-feet while participating in a high-angle rescue training exercise in Letchworth State Park.
As part of the exercise a life-size dummy had been placed on a ledge of a cliff over Wolf Creek. Trooper Riley, a paramedic for the agency, and two other troopers rappelled to the ledge and secured the dummy to a stretcher. As other personnel began to lift the stretcher Trooper Riley fell backwards and dropped approximately 30 feet into Wolf Creek, suffering severe head injuries.
The other two troopers immediately descended to his location and administered aid. He was transported to Wyoming County Community Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.
Trooper Riley was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran of the Persian Gulf War and had served with the New York State Police for 17 years. He is survived by his wife and three daughters.
CASTILE, N.Y. (WIVB) – A New York State trooper has died after falling into the gorge at Letchworth State Park during a training exercise.
State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico came in from Albany for a press conference to explain what happened. He said State Police were conducting a high angle rescue training operation. A life-sized dummy was placed on the ledge of a cliff and Trooper Ross Riley acting as a paramedic and two other troopers acting as EMTs went down to secure the dummy to a stretcher.
Just before the dummy was lifted, Trooper Riley apparently fell backwards around 30 feet into Wood Creek, which has little water. He sustained severe head injuries during the fall. The two troopers he was with descended immediately to provide advanced life saving measures.
Trooper Riley was lifted from the gorge and taken to Wyoming County Community Hospital. During the trip there and at the hospital, EMTs and doctors did everything they could to save his life, but they were unable to and Trooper Riley succumbed to his injuries.
State Police say Trooper Riley was originally attached to a safety line, but at the time he fell, he was not tethered. At this time, it is unknown why, and police will be investigating.
Trooper Riley was on the force for 17 years and did rappelling demonstrations, including at the NYS Fair this year. He had been a member of the S.O.R.T. team, an elite special unit, for the State Police since 2000, where he was a sniper. He received a commendation for his service as a member of the Mobile Response Team at Ground Zero following the September 11, 2001 attacks. Prior to joining State Police, Riley fought in the Persian Gulf War as a Marine, where he served from 1987-1992 before being honorably discharged. He received a number of commendations as a Marine, including Good Conduct Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon and National Defense Medal.
NYS Police Major Christopher Fiore said, "I would describe him as a go-to guy, the kind of guy you would rely on when you needed somebody, and very innovative. A hard charger. His presence will be greatly missed."
In 2008, News 4 interviewed Trooper Riley after he helped saved a man’s life at the Erie County Fair. An employee of the NYS Lottery building fell to the ground while suffering a heart attack, and Trooper Riley used an AED to revive the man.
At that time, Trooper Riley said, "Everybody, doesn’t matter what uniform you’re wearing, everybody helped out. It was just great. Kind of made you proud."
Trooper Riley was also a member of a six-person team that rescued an injured hunter from the bottom of a 500-foot-high rock face in Zoar Valley in 2010.
"Very talented. Very detail-oriented. In addition to being just an outstanding trooper and an outstanding tactical team operator, just an outstanding person," Major Fiore said.
Along with his wife Heidi Riley, a the Station Commander for State Police in Olean, Trooper Riley leaves behind three daughters, aged 10, 8, and 3. He was 44-years-old.
His funeral will likely be held sometime next week, and Trooper Riley will receive full military and police honors.