TAYLORSVILLE, N.C. (WBTV) - After deadly floods in November, Alexander County Sheriff Chris Bowman says his detectives approached him with an idea about getting a drone to help find people in situations like that.
After discussions with county officials the funding was approved and in mid-December, the Sheriff’s Office bought a special drone.
It’s bigger than most, more powerful, can carry up to six pounds of items, and also carried a hefty price tag.
“$34,000,” said the Bowman.
It wasn’t until this week, though, due to required training, that it was ready to be used.
Wednesday night, a 78 year old man got turned around in some woods in the Stony Point section of Alexander County.
It was raining and the temperature was dropping. Search teams combed the area and Detective Buddy McKinney brought the drone for its first mission.
After more than half an hour of searching, with just minutes left in the first set of batteries, a figure was spotted with the infrared camera.
It was Dwight Moose, the missing man in thick underbrush. Turns out he had tried to call out to rescuers but had lost his voice.
The area was so thick, rescuers who were just feet away walked right past him. McKinney could see Moose on infrared video and directed the crews to him.
The image indicated Moose was losing heat and possibly suffering from hypothermia. He was taken to a hospital and Friday was back home recovering.
His wife Ora says it’s likely he would not have survived the night if he was not found when he was.
“He would not be here today had it not been for the drone,” she said. Bowman says the first mission of the drone showed “It was worth every penny.”
McKinney says it will be used for more than just searching with its video cameras. Because it has the power to lift several pounds, it can be used in rescue situations to take life vests, phones, even food and water to victims.
Bowman spoke with Ora on Friday to check on her husband’s condition.
When she thanked him for using the drone to find her husband he told her he was “hoping and praying we use it to save lives in the future as well.”