The Tuscaloosa County Sheriff's Office used its aerial drones Thursday morning to locate and rescue an older man who had been missing in the woods for almost 24 hours.

Deputy Jessica McDaniel, a spokesperson for the sheriff's office, said they received a missing person report around 6 p.m. Wednesday. According to an Integrated Public Alert and Warning System alert issued later, the individual was a 73-year-old man who went missing in a wooded area in Fosters.

McDaniel said witnesses lost track of the man around 3 p.m. and spent a few hours searching the area where he was last seen before reaching out to TCSO.

Tuscaloosa Thread logo
Get our free mobile app

Sheriff's deputies responded and first checked the scene on foot, but did not find any sign of the missing man.

The K-9 unit responded, but McDaniel said too many people had been in the woods nearby and the bloodhound could not develop a track.

(Brittany Marshall|Tuscaloosa Thread)
(Brittany Marshall|Tuscaloosa Thread)

As concern for the missing man mounted, two IPAWS alerts were sent but went unanswered, so the sheriff's office dispatched its drone unit.

Those deputies, profiled by the Thread in 2022 here, launched a large Mavic 2 Enterprise drone and a Matrice 300, both pictured below.

As we wrote then, the technology at play is also first-rate. The drones have absurdly high-definition cameras that can move freely, zoom in with perfect clarity and cycle between a number of infrared and night vision options to quickly find a person in tricky environments.

(Brittany Marshall|Tuscaloosa Thread)
(Brittany Marshall|Tuscaloosa Thread)

As a team of deputies checked surrounding areas and both the Greene County Sheriff’s Office and Pickens County Sheriff’s Office stepped in to assist, the unmanned drone pilots finally spotted the missing man and deputies rescued him at approximately 10:00 a.m. - 19 hours after he went missing.

McDaniel said the details they are allowed to release are limited, but it's no stretch to assume the searching deputies saved the 73-year-old man's life after a full night exposed to the elements.

For more news from in and around west Alabama, stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread.

Top Stories from the Tuscaloosa Thread (3/4 - 3/11)

10 of the Top Stories published by the Tuscaloosa Thread during the ninth week of 2024 and the end of February.

Gallery Credit: (Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)

More From Tuscaloosa Thread