Drones, as you are likely aware, are tremendously useful in the world of Search and Rescue. There have been literally hundreds of cases reported globally, which DJI tracks here, where drones played a role in getting a human being out of a tough spot. Sadly, this story does not have a happy ending — but it’s still important: A drone deployed in the S&R efforts found the body of a missing tourist in Slovakia.
Think about it for a second. Where are people likely to go missing? Well, yes, sometimes it can be in a city. But the most protracted searches are often in locations difficult to search by foot or vehicle. Think dense forests, isolated or mountainous areas. These are the places where drones excel.
And, sometimes, it’s just about locating a deceased person and bringing closure to their loved ones. That’s what happened in this case.
Drone finds body of missing tourist in Slovakia
This story was flagged on Twitter by DJI’s Adam Lisberg. He’s a former career journalist and is the driving force behind DJI’s interactive map that tracks drone rescues. It’s an important project, and while DJI drones are used in the majority of the cases tracked, that’s not the point. It’s that drones are indispensable Search and Rescue tools.
Here’s Adam’s Tweet, which — as they often do — sent us down the rabbit hole.
A click on that link…
And, moments later, we were reading a Google Translate version of the post, which we quote from here:
On Monday, July 19, 2021, in the evening, the fire brigade was asked by Polish mountain rescuers from TOPR to cooperate in the search for a missing Polish tourist, who probably went to the High Tatras on July 14, 2021. On Saturday, July 17, 2021, he was to return home, where he did not go and did not start work on Monday. He also had his phone turned off. A police patrol in Tatranská Javorina found his parked car, which confirmed that the man was probably still in Slovakia. From Tatranská Javorina it is possible to set off in several directions and thus it was very difficult to determine which territory to focus on when searching. Another information was that he had a tent with him, which increased the potential area even more. ( accident report HERE )
So the Slovakian Fire Brigade faced a difficult task.
Video of search area
In addition to the written details, the Slovakian post contains a video shot July 22 that gives you some sense of the terrain. Imagine trying to search this by foot:
Drone fines body of missing tourist in Slovakia
The search was ultimately successful, but it was not the hoped-for outcome. The tourist was found dead from injuries the searchers believe was caused by a fall:
The group with the drone descended from the saddle a few tens of meters to the north side of the ridge and traversed the guardhouse under Barania. There, a suspicious object appeared under a snow field in the Black Maple Valley. At that time, a drone had just been used to verify and pinpoint coordinates. As the drone approached, it was immediately clear that he was a sought-after tourist. The first group then descended from the Black Saddle to the tent and to the sought-after tourist, who, unfortunately, succumbed to the injuries he suffered during the fall, probably from the ridge of the Aries.
And there’s a PS from the team with some very good advice:
Finally, we would like to remind you that from a safety point of view it is better to go on hikes at least two and if possible we recommend to tell someone your planned route, exact destination and planned return time (especially if you are going to places with a weak signal). We also recommend that you have a charged and switched-on telephone or powebank with you.
We’ve known about the power of drones as Search and Rescue tools for years and frequently cover these stories. This case, obviously, came to an unfortunate conclusion, but locating even a deceased person is important to bring families closure and to bring the unfortunate soul home.
The post contains imagery that shows where the body was located. They’re not graphic, but out of respect, we are not re-posting them here. If you want to see what the drone found, you’ll find it here.
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