Stafford Co. Sheriff’s Office says drone helped locate missing high school student

STAFFORD, Va. - The Stafford County Sheriff's Office says their Unmanned Aircraft System, known as a drone, helped find a missing high school student.

On Monday, September 18th, around 5:00 p.m., the Sheriff's Office says they got a call about a missing 18-year-old Mountain View High School student.

He did not return home after school and had no history of running away.

The Sheriff's Office says deputies found the missing student's book bag and cell phone in the school which heightened the concern for his safety.

Detectives also spoke with other students and learned that nobody had seen or heard from him since the end of the school day.

The Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue Team as well as the Drone Team were called out to assist in the search.

They say the drone, which is equipped with a thermal imaging camera, was launched just before 9:00 p.m. and picked up an image believed to be that of the student about a half hour later.

He was found in the far southwest portion of the school property near the track.

The Sheriff's Office says drone team members directed deputies to that area and the missing student was found unharmed.

"I was happy to give such good news to them as well as others," says Captain Ben Worcester, who leads the Drone Team.

He says he has visited various police agencies to tell them about their team and why it's worth investing in a drone.

"It’s important to spread the word and spread this technology because it saves lives," says Captain Worcester. "We’ve been able to catch dangerous suspects in the community with guns that committed violent crimes, we’ve now found this missing person and we’ll find more."