BOSSIER Parish - A drone operator with the Bossier Sheriff’s Office used thermal imaging and located three teen runaways as they were hiding in the wooded area off of Highway 80 around 10:30 p.m. last week.
Around 10:15 p.m. on March 8, Bossier Sheriff’s Office deputies were dispatched to the Haughton area to help search for three teen male juveniles who had run away from Camp Minden’s Youth Challenge Program. They were reportedly seen near Highway 80 just west of Camp Minden, and a Haughton Police Department officer informed the deputies that he saw the teenagers run into the woods. Patrol deputies started their search in the wooded area near the vicinity of Showdown Saloon on Highway 80, and finding them safe and sound was priority number one.
But it was dark, and a ground search in the wooded area would be difficult.
A Bossier deputy who was recently trained as an unarmed aerial vehicle (UAV) operator also came to the scene to provide assistance. The deputy quickly deployed the drone that was equipped with thermal imaging, and within one minute of launch, he had the teens in sight in the middle of the woods. (Video attached)
The drone operator was able to show the deputies were the teens were hiding, and the deputies went directly to their location and ordered them out of the ditch where they were hiding; they complied and were turned over to Camp Minden officials.
A third teenager, however, decided to make a run for it. In the drone video footage, you can see him running through the woods, crossing through a body of water, and then running across both lanes of traffic on I-20. Running across an interstate is already an unsafe situation, but when a person does so in the dark, it’s even more dangerous. In the video, you’ll see the teen cross the second lane of I-20. Although he made it across, you’ll notice in the video that within a matter of seconds, an 18-wheeler comes driving by….and it’s 10:30 at night. Deputies were not able to locate him, but they have been in contact with Camp Minden officials, and the teen is still considered a runaway.
The uses of drones to give deputies an aerial view when searching for runaways, lost people, criminals, or for providing an overheard view during events like floods or other disasters is why Bossier Sheriff Julian Whittington is encouraged to have their use.
“Having these drones is a priority,” said Sheriff Whittington. “When we have the ability to launch a drone and immediately locate people like we did with these teens hiding in the woods at night, that’s a success. Our next case might be finding a lost child, looking for an elderly person who has wandered off, or searching for an armed robbery suspect. We will be ready…and we will find you.”
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