A KEYT news report citing “several” unnamed County Fire Department sources on Monday evening sent county officials into a frenzy because the story suggested a Sheriff’s search and rescue helicopter was delayed in getting off the ground last Wednesday for more than three hours because a pilot couldn’t be located. This time frame, they suggested, could’ve been critical in finding and saving Los Olivos 17-year-old Denis “Oige” Keane, whose body was found last Thursday morning. A joint statement released Tuesday afternoon by interim Fire Chief Tom Franklin and Sheriff Bill Brown said they were “disappointed that a forum has been provided to some disgruntled persons attempting to exploit a tragic situation in order to advance hidden agendas. They have made a very serious allegation that the actions of the Sheriff’s Department somehow contributed to [Keane’s] death.” Franklin, whose last day with the county is Friday, said his department is investigating who might’ve spoken with the station. He said the alleged sources didn’t speak for the department.
A dense brush and tree canopy prevented Keane’s body from being seen from the air. Brown said his department is assessing the search for the missing boy, but that currently “all indications are that this [search and rescue] mission was conducted professionally and appropriately.” Franklin said the unnamed sources, who suggested there was a feud between the two departments’ aviation units, made claims of “rank speculation and conjecture.” KEYT broadcast an update to the story on Tuesday, including the county’s statement.