Police: Drone ‘instrumental’ in overnight search for missing man found incoherent in culvert

Police: Drone ‘instrumental’ in overnight search for missing man found incoherent in culvert
Courtesy MPD

Authorities were able to find a missing man using a drone early Thursday, according to police.

The Sun Prairie Police Department said that at about 2:40 a.m. Thursday, an officer from the Sun Prairie Police Department observed a vehicle in a near a new housing development off O’Keeffe Avenue.

The officer investigated the potentially suspicious vehicle, which was unoccupied with the engine running and a door open.

MPD’s Unmanned Aircraft System team proudly partners with Sun Prairie Police to find missing and endangered man alive. MPD “drone” picked up a thermal signature within two to four minutes leading first responders to man’s location. https://t.co/UqY438azw9 pic.twitter.com/8p9GvmjEeI

— Madison Police (@madisonpolice) November 15, 2019

Additional officers began searching the area for a 57-year-old man, according to the report. Contact was made with the man’s family, who determined no one had heard from him since 2:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The Dane County Sheriff’s Office was brought in to provide a K-9 to assist with a track, police said.

A ping of the man’s phone was plotting near the area, officials said. A request was made for a drone with thermal imaging to assist in the search, which Madison police officers were able to provide.

Police said the drone search began at approximately 3:25 a.m. The drone was able to pick up a thermal signature within 2 to 4 minutes, and officers found the man lying in a culvert at approximately 3:48 a.m.

The man was found alive but incoherent, police said. He was taken to a hospital and was in critical condition.

Authorities said it was determined that the man suffered a medically significant event and likely drove off the road, into the field, then wandered from his vehicle.

Police said that as of Friday afternoon, there have been no indications of foul play.

Sun Prairie police thanked the Dane County Sheriff’s Office and Madison Police Department for their help in the case.

“The thermal imaging drone was instrumental in finding this person alive,” Sun Prairie police said in a statement.

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