Oregon: Stuck in snow, man gets help by tying phone to DJI drone

snow stuck phone drone rescue oregon

Search and rescue (SAR) teams have rescued hundreds of people across the world using drones. This is also a story where a drone helped to rescue a man who was stuck in deep snow without cell service. But this story comes with a rather unique twist because, here, the drone was operated by the man who needed to be saved.

Lane County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue in Oregon recently responded to an all-too-familiar mission: a motorist had attempted to traverse a remote road in the Willamette National Forest that is not maintained for winter travel. Soon enough, his vehicle became stuck in the snow. And cell reception being extremely limited in the forested area, he could not call anyone for help.

The guy’s situation was made worse by the fact that his family was out of the country and nobody knew where he had gone. Basically, even if he didn’t make it home, there was no one who would call for help. Luckily, he had the ingenuity to find a way to call for help.

The man had a DJI Mavic 3 with him that came with its own HD display remote controller, meaning he didn’t require his phone to fly the drone. He typed a text message to a friend, describing his situation and exact location, hit send, and attached his cellphone to the drone. He then launched the drone several hundred feet into the air, giving the phone the elevation it needed to connect to a tower and send the message.

Lane County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue teams soon reached the scene and assisted the stranded man out of his situation.

Read: DJI quietly released two new products this week

But the story doesn’t end here. While the teams were rescuing this person, another motorist who had also been stranded nearby in the snow for “multiple days” was located and rescued.

Read: Better GNSS, mission planning with new DJI M300 drone firmware

The SAR team is naturally happy with the outcome of this call for service, and impressed with the creatively displayed to call for help, but the Sheriff’s Office has stressed some important winter travel safety tips that we are sharing below:

  • Forest Roads are not maintained for winter travel. Any attempt to travel on unmaintained snow- or ice-covered roads (no matter how much or little) should only be made with a group of well-equipped vehicles. If one vehicle becomes stuck, the other vehicles can attempt to free the stuck vehicle or can turn around and be used to drive everyone back to safety.
  • Always tell a responsible person EXACTLY where you are going, and when you expect to be back. Do not deviate from this plan. If a road becomes unpassable, turn around and go back the way you came, do not attempt a detour without first updating your plan with your emergency contact.
  • Of the dozens of missions we have had this winter involving a vehicle stuck in the snow, nearly all of them were 4×4 vehicles and almost all of the drivers told us “I didn’t think I would get stuck.” Instead of asking yourself whether you think you can get through a section of road, ask yourself “What will happen if I do get stuck?” If you (and the group of other vehicles you are traveling with) are not prepared to deal with any of the possible outcomes from an attempt, turn around and go back the way you came.

Read: Boost your drone’s ability to locate missing persons with this guide

(Photo of the drone is a reenactment, not the actual setup)

Subscribe to DroneDJ on YouTube for exclusive videos

Load more...
Show More Comments