A missing grandfather has been saved by a police drone which spotted him after he had spent 18 hours lost in fields of 4ft high grass while out on a walk.
Roy Giblin, 82, became disorientated while walking through long grass not far from his home in Abergele, Conwy on June 8.
When he failed to return home his worried family called the police and an 18-hour rescue mission began.
Mr Giblin’s family say a drone saved his life when its handler spotted Mr Giblin’s head in a disturbed area of grass, and that he ‘didn’t stand a chance’ without it.
He had been tracked down lost and alone in the field near the town’s railway station where grass had been left to grow.
His granddaughter Laura Delany, 30 said the family ‘prepared for the worst’ as they waited for word of his disappearance.
She said: ‘As soon as I heard the news that he’d been found, I just burst into tears. It’s overwhelming. If they’d not had the drone, he would probably have still been there now. We wouldn’t have had a clue where he was, and he wouldn’t even be here.
Roy Giblin (pictured), 82, became disorientated while walking through long grass not far from his home in Abergele, Conwy on June 8
‘Without that drone, he didn’t stand a chance.’
She said the police were ‘absolutely amazing’ and ‘literally pulled out every stop to find him’.
North Wales Police force only launched the drone for the first time in April and the force says it has now been deployed more than 250 times.
Lead pilot sergeant Paul Terry said it was ‘very likely’ that the device had saved Mr Giblin’s life.
He said: ‘I’d say this was the most significant find we’ve had in the two months since launching.
‘What’s critical about that story is that we were working with local officers who were doing a huge amount of foundational work looking for CCTV sightings in the last location that we’d seen him and manually on the ground searching with teams looking across the area.
‘As we searched along the train line, we had a sighting of him in some very long grass around 4ft high, away from the area where the ground team were searching.
‘But because we had aerial cover, it could capture an area wider than what they were searching for visually.
‘It was when we saw a disturbance in the pattern of grass, we noticed his head poking out over the really long grass.
Mr Giblin’s family say a drone saved his life when its handler spotted Mr Giblin’s head (pictured) in a disturbed area of grass, and that he ‘didn’t stand a chance’ without it
‘If the drone hadn’t been there, Mr Giblin wouldn’t have been seen.’
He said it was ‘very likely he wouldn’t have been located that night’, meaning use of the drone saved his life.
Sgt Terry said using a drone was far cheaper for officers than using force helicopters to provide a similar service.
He said: ‘We can be deployed alongside officers on the ground to multiple locations during an operation over a number of hours, carrying out multiple flights throughout an operation and at much lower cost.’
The DJI M300 RTK drones boast thermal camera and powerful 200x zoom lens with a flight time of up to 45 minutes and the ability to fly in rain and winds up to 33mph.
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