In Virginia, US, the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office located a missing Mountain View High School student earlier this month with the help of its quadcopter drone.
The Sheriff’s Office received a call on 18 September at approximately 17:00 hrs saying that an 18-year-old student had failed to return home after school. The missing student had no history of running away and the Sheriff’s Office had reason to believe that he may be endangered. Deputies located the missing student’s book bag and cell phone in the school, which heightened the concern for the young man’s safety. Detectives conducted numerous interviews with associates of the student and learned that nobody had seen or heard from him since the end of the school day.
In light of the circumstances and the belief that the missing student may still be somewhere in the area of Mountain View High School, the Sheriff’s Office Search & Rescue Team and Drone Team were called out to assist in the search. The drone, which is equipped with a thermal imaging camera, was launched just before 21:00 hrs. By 21:30 hrs, the drone operator had picked up a thermal image believed to be that of the missing student in the far southwest portion of the school property near the running track. Drone team members directed deputies to that area and the missing student was found unharmed.
“The drone has proven to be an invaluable tool for our agency,” said Stafford Sheriff D.P. Decatur. “Having the ability to search large areas of land from above in a short period of time for lost, missing and dangerous individuals has allowed us to provide another layer of safety to our citizens. I’m extremely happy that we were able to quickly locate and return this young man back to his family unharmed.”