Local volunteers dedicate their time helping the families of victims

Local volunteers do what they can to help the families of victims at a deadly crime scene or an untimely death (KSNV)

At a deadly crime scene or an untimely death, you'll find a group of volunteers who will do whatever they can to help the families of the victims.

There's one volunteer who has dedicated almost two decades to helping strangers.

From murders to fatal crashes to natural deaths, Dick Hofacker has responded to all kinds of tragedy as a Trauma Intervention Program (TIP) volunteer.

"Some calls will still get to me," Hofacker said. "What am I going to do, what am I going to say, but when you get there, because of the way you're trained, it all just comes right to you."

Hofacker gives victims' families emotional and practical support.

"Help them through their worst moment in their life," Hofacker said.

Just last year, 60 TIP volunteers responded to more than 4,400 scenes of tragedy.

This is what Hofacker has been doing for 19 years; he's the second-longest TIP volunteer.

"I feel proud to be able to hold it," Hofacker said.

While working full-time as a real estate agent, Hofacker makes time to help strangers.

His dedication stands out to fellow volunteer Tami Johnson.

"It's giving a lot of yourself and a lot of volunteers get tired of it or move on," Johnson said. "For someone who does it for 19 years is just phenomenal. To give back that much of yourself for so long to the community says a lot."

Over the years, Hofacker has responded to a number of high-profile cases including the 2004 murders of a mother and daughter that were killed during a robbery of their downtown jewelry store.

There are too many to keep track.

"A man whose wife jumped off the Hoover Dam," Hofacker said. "The sister had beat the baby so badly that the doctor said it looked like she had been thrown out of an eight-story room."

"My worst call was a 12-year-old boy and his parents were coming home from work. He was hanging from a tree and uh, wow, been that long ago. When his dad took my face in his hands and asked me to bring his son back to me, wow, so that was probably my first worst call. It sticks in my mind," Hofacker continued.

They're painful moments in people's lives that have touched his heart too. Hofacker admits it takes an emotional toll.

And while many times the victims are too overwhelmed to thank the volunteers, he knows he's provided some support and help.

"That's the biggest thing for me is I get to walk away and it's going to affect me for a little while and probably a lot of our volunteers and these people have to live with it, and I hope that you help smooth that for them and make it a little easier for them to live with that," Hofacker said.

And for him, that's enough to bring him back year after year, answering calls one after another.

If you know someone deserving of being a News 3 Local Hero, nominate them on News 3's Facebook page or the News 3 website.

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