Drone Used in Terrifying Maui Carjacking Manhunt, Victims Claim

KHON2 reports that a couple's Hawaiian vacation turned into a nightmare when they were allegedly carjacked at gunpoint and pursued up Haleakalā volcano, with the suspects reportedly using a drone in their search.

The Harrowing Incident

Alex and Justina Lucero, visiting Maui for music gigs in June 2024, found themselves in a life-threatening situation on the remote Piilani Highway. A man, later identified as Christopher Helmer, allegedly forced them out of their rental car at gunpoint.

The situation escalated when Helmer reportedly returned, taunting the couple.

“He's yelling for us to show ourselves. ‘Yeah, I'll find you. I'll find you.' And he, at some point, he counts down from, I don't know if it was 10 or I heard him at five. And at the end of it, he shot the gun off,” Alex recounted, according to Yahoo News.

The Drone Search

In a chilling twist, the Luceros claim that additional vehicles joined the search, including a white multi-passenger van with a taxi sign.

Justina described a terrifying scene: “During a break, they noticed there was a third vehicle pacing the stretch of road, getting out with flashlights and even putting a drone in the sky, complete with a searchlight.”

This alleged use of a drone by the suspects adds a modern, high-tech element to an already frightening ordeal. The couple spent nearly 24 hours hiding and climbing the slopes of Haleakalā volcano to evade their pursuers.

Arrest and Ongoing Investigation

Maui arrested Christopher Helmer on June 8, 2024, finding him operating the stolen Mustang. He faces multiple charges, including robbery, unauthorized control of a vehicle, and firearms offenses.

The involvement of other individuals and the use of a drone remain under active investigation.

Maui police spokesperson Alana Pico stated, “Additional people arrived in the area, with the victims believing that these people were helping to look for them, including using a drone.”

Legal and Safety Implications

It's worth noting that drone use is generally prohibited in Haleakalā National Park without special permission. This incident raises questions about the misuse of for criminal activities.

DroneXL's Take

While this incident showcases a concerning misuse of drone technology, it also highlights the potential for drones in search operations – albeit in this case, for nefarious purposes. As drone technology becomes more accessible, it's crucial to address both its benefits and potential misuses.

At DroneXL, we advocate for responsible drone use to prevent such incidents. This case underscores the need for enhanced drone detection and counter-drone measures in sensitive areas like . It also emphasizes the importance of public awareness about drone regulations and the potential consequences of their misuse.

As we continue to report on drone-related news at DroneXL, we'll keep a close eye on how this case might influence future drone policies and regulations.

Photo courtesy of Alex Lucero.

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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of DroneXL.co, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and EVXL.co, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ dronexl.co or @hayekesteloo.

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