Drone pilot relives 'ecstatic' moment they found missing Norfolk man
Drone pilot Sergeant Danny Leach said he was "ecsatic" when he found a missing man stuck in marshes.
He said: “I really felt that I had saved someone’s life. It was one of the highlights of my professional career. The feel-good factor was incredible. I did not shout out or anything. I just said ‘I’ve found him. He’s still alive’. I felt ecstatic.”
Sgt Leach, who keeps the drone in the back of his police car, was able to guide a team from HM Coastguard and Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service to Peter Pugh, 75, from Brancaster.
The team pulled him from a deep muddy creek before providing first aid until the Coastguard rescue helicopter arrived to winch him out.
Peter was then taken by air ambulance to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn where he is being treated for hypothermia.
When he found him about 2.35pm on Sunday, Sgt Leach had been searching for him since about 9am.
He had been scouring the 3 sq m area on foot, using the drone, but each time he thought he had found Mr Pugh, it turned out to be something else. Mr Pugh had been wearing a salmon coloured top, but it had not been registering well on the drone camera.
Sgt Leach said: “The fire drone was there as well, and we were trying to direct the Coastguard to where he was. A helicopter was also looking for him, but it could never have got close enough to spot him.
“We must have taken the drone up about 15 times on flights looking for him. It can only stay up for about 18 minutes at a time. We were zooming in and then sending the footage back to see if it was him.
“When we did find him we had a real adrenaline rush. We were about 650 metres away from where he was.
“We were worried we were never going to find him. If we had not had the drone, we could still be looking for him now.
“It was one of the biggest incidents where we have all worked so well together, using the best of everything we had to offer.
“Peter could be out of hospital tomorrow - that would be great. I’m very pleased he’s going to be 100pc better.”
The police have three drones and the service was launched last year. Sgt Leach was the first pilot.