Young Boy Owes His Life to a Heat-Seeking Drone and Its Owner

Animals |

The case of a missing six-year-old boy had a happy outcome thanks to a volunteer who brought a heat-seeking drone to find Ethan Haus after he went missing on October 15, 2019.

Young Ethan and his dog, Remmington, were missing for nearly ten hours, and searchers were starting to worry that they would not find the pair alive.

At nearly 2 am the following morning, Ethan and Remmington were found asleep in a cornfield less than two miles from home. Both seemed to have escaped their adventure unharmed.


Drone operator to the rescue

Aerial photographer Steve Fines found out that Ethan and his dog had gone missing on Twitter, more than four hours after the matter had been reported to the police. The St. Cloud, Minnesota resident felt compelled to see if he could help.

As a rule, Fines uses his drone with its thermal imaging camera to take photographs for architectural projects, and he’s also used it to find missing livestock. Knowing that time was of the essence, Fines drove the 20 miles from his home to Becker to join the search for Ethan.

Volunteers were searching for the boy and his dog on the ground while a frustrated Fines waited for the weather to cooperate so that he could get his drone in the air.


Follow the light

As Fines used his drone to cover the area where searchers believed Ethan might be with a fine-toothed comb, he kept rescuers informed of any heat signatures he detected. Unfortunately, the first few sightings Fines reported turned out to be some of the local wildlife.

After more than two hours, the specialized equipment picked up a bright spot in an open cornfield. So detailed was the footage that Fines could see a dog lifting its head in the thermal images.

He lit up the drone with its onboard lights so that searchers would know where to go. Fines watched with great satisfaction as the four-person team approached the boy and the dog, who was running around in excitement.

The sheriff’s office reported on social media that the boy had been found safe and sound, much to the relief of the community.


Community spirit

More than 600 people volunteered to look for Ethan and Remmington despite the inclement weather. Walking in lines with their flashlights trained ahead of them, they braved 40-degree weather to look for the boy and his dog.

Police and firefighters led the way, with the Red Cross and local Lions Club joining soon afterward. Fines was hailed a hero for driving to Becker with his drone and its camera to help in the search for the youngster.

His response has been to say that it was by no means a solo effort, and that law enforcement and the volunteers should be credited with finding Ethan. As to the young man at the center of the story, he expressed his thanks to everyone who came out to help search for him.