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Fri, Dec 22, 2017

Drone Locates Missing Hunter In Shenandoah County, VA

Elderly Man Found In About 20 Minutes, Authorities Say

A 92-year-old hunter who became lost in the woods in Shenandoah County, VA was located by authorities using a drone borrowed from nearby Loudoun County.

The search was conducted on December 16 when William Luther McDonnell did not return home as expected from a hunting trip, according to radio station WTOP. Several law enforcement agencies were asked to assist, including the Loudoun County Sheriff's department, which had recently purchased the drone as part of its Project Lifesaver program.

“We were able to launch the drone and within 20 minutes we got a visual sighting of the 92-year-old gentleman who was lost in the woods,” said Sheriff Mike Chapman with the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office. Once is was sighted, rescuers were able to quickly reach him and lead him out of the woods. He was reported to be in good condition when found.

The drone is not a consumer-grade aircraft, according to Chapman. He said that the aircraft gives his department the ability to get an aerial view of different areas, but much closer to the ground than a helicopter or airplane would be able to provide. He said there is also a significant impact in terms of manpower for such a rescue mission.

The Project Lifesaver program is an electronic based tracking system for people with medical conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Autism, or other conditions, that have a tendency to wander from home and become lost. The program allows Loudoun Deputies certified as Electronic Search Specialists to fit clients with a wristband transmitter that emits an automatic tracking signal. If the client becomes lost, the specially trained deputies will use a mobile antenna and hand-held directional device to help locate the client.

Project Lifesaver is funded through several local, state and federal grants. Since the program began in 1999, Project Lifesaver agencies have rescued over 2,483 cognitively challenged individuals successfully with no serious injuries or deaths reported.

(Image provided by the Loudoun County Sheriff's Department)

FMI: Original Report

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