Drone helps Harvey County Sheriff’s Department locate missing elderly man

NEWTON, Kan. (KSNW) – The use of a drone helped the Harvey County Sheriff’s Department locate a missing 91-year-old man this morning.

Late Tuesday night, the Harvey County Sheriff’s Office was dispatched after a man was reported missing. The family was unable to find him, but his vehicle was located by a neighbor in the 3300 block of E. Dutch in Walton.

“We were able to identify on that second flight that is was a person that laid down out there,” says Corporal Brandon Huntley with the Harvey County Sheriff’s Department. “And we were able to direct our search elements right on top of him.”

Huntley was the spotter for the drone cameras while deputy Matt Stovall piloted the drone. Hesston police and a lot of volunteers were out looking for the missing man. He was found by using the county drone with a heat signature lens. A lot of volunteers were also on foot in the rough terrain of a pasture, a few miles outside of Walton. After midnight, they decided to put up the drone.

“We had searchers who had already walked within fifty feet of the man,” says Huntley. “But that is rough terrain out there Thick grasses, trees and plants that were taller than the searchers.”

That missing man was found after the drone spotted a heat signature, and searchers were sent to his location. The 91-year-old was dehydrated and had suffered from a medical condition.

Now, with the missing man found, the sheriff says the drone and training for piloting the drone is paying off.

“Well, the ability to put something up in the air like that is huge,” said Harvey County sheriff, Chad Gay. “And again, like last night, worth every minute of time these guys spent training on this thing, worth every penny that  we spent on it.”

The sheriff says the county has two drones, two sets of batteries to keep the drones in the air, and a commitment to using the drone more in the future.

“It was critical to saving that guy’s life last night. No doubt about it,” said Harvey County Sheriff Chad Gay. “The technology, the ability to put that thing up and to find people and do things like that, is pretty awesome. I feel fortunate that we had access to that technology to be able to deploy it and be successful with it.”

The man was transported to Newton Medical Center where he is recovering from dehydration and injuries.


Get breaking news, weather and traffic on the go. Download our News App and our Weather App for your phone and tablet. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.