A Wisconsin man who suffers from dementia and had been missing three days was found in 20 minutes with the help of a drone.
It all started when, on July 16, 82-year-old Guillermo “Gill” DeVenecia went missing near Fitchburg, Wisc. The police issued a notice asking local residents to aid in the search and be on the lookout for a man, 5’9″ tall, 148 lbs with gray hair, wearing tan pants, a blue or brown shirt and leather sandals.
After three days, DeVenecia had still not been located, even after the authorities used a helicopter, search dogs and hundreds of volunteers to look for the man.
When Colorado resident David Lesh, who was in town visiting his girlfriend’s parents, heard the news, he decided to enlist his drone. Normally, Lesh uses the drone and its remote-control camera to film aerial ski and snowboard videos. This time, he took the drone to a large bean field and began crisscrossing the space from 200 feet in the air.
In about 20 minutes, he had nearly finished scanning the field and need to make one last check in the field’s corner. As the drone approached, Lesh noticed a man stumbling about, looking a disoriented.
Sure enough, it was DeVenecia. Lesh, his girlfriend Katie Gorman and her father, Gary Gorman, tore through the bean field toward DeVenecia, and were able to help him to their car.
The 82-year-old was found in good spirits and wasn’t sure why everyone had been looking for him. He didn’t realize he’d been gone three days. Even though he was dehydrated and tired, he cracked jokes and seemed fine.
“To be honest, when David was flying the drone over the bean fields, we thought we were looking for a body,” said Gary, who was surprised at DeVenecia’s condition.
Luckily, this story has a happy ending.