On Saturday, a teenage drone pilot in rural Colorado became an unlikely hero when his flying device stumbled upon a disturbing sight – an SUV, overturned and sinking into a floodwater-filled sinkhole. This harrowing discovery by 18-year-old Josh Logue led to the rescue of two trapped individuals.
Brighton, a suburb nestled approximately 20 miles northwest of Denver, experienced torrential rains, which resulted in widespread flooding. Like other tech-savvy teens, Logue had taken his drone out for an aerial survey of the flood damage. But as his drone floated two miles from his Brighton home, it relayed an image of an alarming anomaly on a bridge-crossed road. A dark, gaping sinkhole had consumed a Jeep Grand Cherokee, its wheels protruding awkwardly from the abyss.
Realizing the gravity of the situation, Logue and his neighbor, Ryan Nuanes, rushed to the site. Upon arrival, they found the submerged vehicle's horn still blaring – a chilling testament to the recency of the calamity.
“So we get down there. The horn is blaring, and the car is underwater,” Logue recounted during a phone interview on Monday. They promptly dialed 911.
Inside the vehicle, they found a 66-year-old man and a 61-year-old woman, both residents of nearby Keenesburg, desperately clinging to life. According to Nuanes, the man disclosed that his breathing room was rapidly shrinking, with just about six inches left.
With the direness of the situation becoming evident, the Brighton Fire Rescue District raced to the scene. Battling against time and the constant threat of the sinkhole filling up further with water, they had to devise a fast solution.
“To expedite the rescue, crews hooked the Jeep up to a pickup truck and rolled it over to allow access to one of its doors,” explained Colin Brunt, the battalion chief on the scene.
The rescuers' efforts paid off. Both occupants, though shaken, were able to walk away from the crash site on their own, and an ambulance swiftly whisked them to the hospital. According to Gabriel Moltrer, a trooper with the Colorado State Patrol's public affairs office, the driver sustained serious injuries.
Had it not been for Logue's fortuitous drone flight, the trapped duo's fate could have been tragically different.
“That's another godsend from the kid with the drone,” Brunt said. “I don't know how long these people would have been there if he hadn't flown that drone right by there.”
The incident underlines the potential for drones to play an essential role in lifesaving operations, turning an ordinary Saturday into a day of heroic rescue.
Read more stories about how drones are being used for good here on DroneXL.
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