Recreational drone flight leads to rescue of incapacitated woman

It started out as a fun drone flight by the beach. It ended with a high-stakes rescue.

Here at DroneDJ, we’ve become accustomed to seeing people rescued with the help of drones. Usually, these stories involve a missing person, and a drone is brought in to assist with the search. Many of those stories take place at night, with thermal imaging quickly zeroing in on the heat of the missing person relative to the colder surroundings. But the rescue you’re about to see? A total fluke. And a very lucky one.

Let’s take a look.

A day at the beach

The story unfolded when Josh Hug, a UC Berkley professor, went down to California’s Pacifica Beach to do some drone flying. He wanted to capture some of the big surf that’s been hitting the coast lately.

But when he got his drone up in the air, he saw something far more than surf. There, lying on the wet sand and being lapped by surf, was a woman. She was face down, and she had a dog with her.

So Josh literally dropped his drone controller and ran to offer assistance. And that’s where things get interesting – because his drone simply loitered in position hold, taking in the scene. It later landed but continued to capture the events.

A very lucky drone flight

For Josh Hug, this was obviously no ordinary day. As he told NBC’s WFLA, News Channel 8: “As I was trying to help her up she just couldn’t move, she was incapacitated in some way. At that point, it became extremely clear this was a life or death situation… It felt like the clock was ticking.”

The story also caught the attention of Brendan Schulman, DJI’s vice-president of Policy and Legal Affairs. His Twitter post below links to the video from the beach.

A very lucky flight – combined with a Good Samaritan drone pilot

Kudos to Josh for being on the ball and simply running to help. We’re glad things worked out well and that Josh’s drone kept on rolling — even after auto-landing! Proof yet again that #dronesforgood is more than a hashtag.

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