A nonprofit group formed to support the Sonoma County sheriff's helicopter, known as Henry 1, when it nearly fell prey to budget cuts last year has donated $3,510 to cover the costs of a May 24 trip to Del Norte County for the rescue of nine emergency responders.

Those rescued had became stranded at the base of a 100-foot cliff near Crescent City after coming to the aid of two injured people as night fell and the water rose.

But the crew of the U.S. Coast Guard helicopter that brought the pair to safety felt conditions were too unsafe to fly at night so close to the cliff, officials said.

The Henry 1 crew, which trains at night, agreed to mount the rescue themselves after they received a request from Del Norte County via the state Office of Emergency Services.

The 5-hour roundtrip required two fuel stops and a good deal of time from the Sonoma County crew. The cost of fuel, time and maintenance have now been covered by a grant from The Friends of Henry 1, a nonprofit formed about a year ago to help ensure the helicopter program remains viable, said Ed Hoener, president of the nonprofit and a sergeant with the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office.

"This mission underscores the importance and uniqueness of the Henry 1 program to this region and illustrates the significance of continuing to fund its operation," Hoener said in a written statement.