SP native: FBI Spec. Agent Shaw and second man die in training accident

May 24, 2013
Santa Paula News

The FBI is mourning the deaths of two special agents - one a native of Santa Paula - killed Friday during a training exercise off the coast of Virginia Beach, Virginia.

The agents, 40-year-old Stephen P. Shaw - identified by the FBI as a native of Santa Paula - and Christopher Lorek, 41, were assigned to the FBI’s Critical Incident Response Group. The FBI stated the cause of the incident is undergoing review.

In a statement issued Sunday, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller said, “We mourn the loss of two brave and courageous men. Like all who serve on the Hostage Rescue Team, they accept the highest risk each and every day, when training and on operational missions, to keep our nation safe. Our hearts are with their wives, children, and other loved ones who feel their loss most deeply. And they will always be part of the FBI Family.”

According to the FBI, the agents were killed while training to use a rope for landing on a ship from a helicopter, a maneuver known as fast-roping. The helicopter encountered weather difficulties, including high winds, and the agents fell into the water rather than making a landing on the ship. 

The men died as a result of the impact, rather than drowning, in the accident that occurred about 12 nautical miles offshore. There was a private memorial service held for the men Tuesday at the U.S. Marine Corps Memorial Chapel at Quantico, VA.

Mueller said, “Steve started with HRT as a member of Blue Unit. In January, he transferred to Gold Unit, where he was already considered ‘one of the guys.’ Steve was always the first to raise his hand for even the most menial of tasks. He simply wanted to be part of the team, and whatever the team needed, he would handle, and handle with perfection. For all of his qualifications, Steve was a man without ego. He genuinely liked and took an interest in everyone around him, regardless of rank or situation. He was quick to make you feel like you were his best friend... his brother.”

Mueller added, “He loved being part of HRT. But for Steve his wife Stella and their children Camille (4 this week) and Vincent (1) were the light of his life - his motivation for the work he was doing.”

Like each of those on the Hostage Rescue Team, Mueller said Shaw and Lorek “walked willingly into places most of us would dare not go. They did things that most of us would dare not do. It is what they believed in. It is what they knew they were put on this earth to do.”

Shaw entered the FBI in 2005. He graduated from HRT operator training in November 2011 and was recognized for his leadership skills and willingness to take on any task, the agency said.

Shaw and Lorek were members of the bureau’s elite hostage rescue team, a group known most recently for rescuing an Alabama boy from a kidnapper in an underground bunker. The team is trained in military tactics and outfitted with combat style gear and weapons. Some of their preparation consists of scuba diving, dropping quickly out of helicopters and battling in close quarters.

Lorek joined the FBI in 1996 and is survived by his wife and two daughters, ages 11 and 8.

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