ECSO Uses Drones To Search For Missing Persons, Suspects…And A Walnut Hill Wreck Victim

August 6, 2022

A car that rolled over multiple times sat in a cotton field with several windows broken out.

Children’s toys, coloring book pages, slippers and a child’s book bag were scattered across the field.

And there was no one around the vehicle.

That was the scene last week along Highway 97 in Walnut Hill. First responders and volunteers searched the field, walking through the row after row of thick, waist-high cotton looking for the driver, a child…anyone that might have been ejected from the vehicle.

The search had a happy ending, with no one found in the field. The driver had fled the scene.

One of the tools used in the search for a possible victim was a drone operated by an Escambia County Sheriff’s Office deputy, one of their certified drone pilots.

The ECSO drone program was one of Sheriff Chip Simmons’ initiatives when he took office, according to Commander Andrew Hobbs.

“We are in the process of building that program with a lot of training,” he said. “We have to understand the statutes and case law about violation of privacy. We are looking at the ways of using technology to best serve the people of Escambia County.”

“We are able to use drones to search for missing persons, suspects in a wooded area…it allows for more availability than other air units and costs are minute compared to a helicopter,” Hobbs added.

For more photos, click or tap here.

Pictured: Escambia County Sheriff’s Office Deputy D. Shaw, a certified drone operator, uses a drone to search a cotton field for a possible wreck victim last week in Walnut Hill. Pictured top inset: Coloring book pages, toys and other children’s items were found in the field near an overturned car (bottom inset). Pictured below: The drone over the cotton field. Pictured bottom: Volunteers¬† and first responders also walked through the cotton field.¬† photos, click to enlarge.


6 Responses to “ECSO Uses Drones To Search For Missing Persons, Suspects…And A Walnut Hill Wreck Victim”

  1. D.B. on August 6th, 2022 7:36 pm

    At shiela…great story and it should serve for all of us to do the same as ur brother to help those in possible need! U never know…just be careful!

  2. Soobee on August 6th, 2022 4:02 pm

    This is an awesome addition to search efforts. So thankful no children were found injured or deceased. Thanks Chip Simmons
    Sheila hubbird – thank your brother for checking. Unfortunately, that happens more than we know where a vehicle is not visible from the road. I’m thankful others watch for these types of clues and at least call it in if nothing else. We never know. Sorry he had to witness that but thankful that someone was able to notify relatives.

  3. Sheila hubbird on August 6th, 2022 11:10 am

    So glad they did a thorough investigation. Years ago on hwy 4 in Byrneville a vehicle hood lay beside the bridge for several days. My brother finally went to investigate and a vehicle had flipped under the bridge. The driver was deceased under the vehicle. As in this case there were children’s belongings slung about in the brush and trees. Officials searched every where up and down the creek. Thankfully no children had been in the car with him when he flipped.

  4. JODY on August 6th, 2022 11:04 am

    This is a valuable tool for helping to locate missing and endangered people.

  5. TB on August 6th, 2022 8:54 am

    Great job Chip! Thanks for being innovative and bringing the Sheriffs Department to a whole new level.

  6. Reader on August 6th, 2022 2:09 am

    What a great effort by first responders and what a great program from Sheriff Simmons.
    . .
    That top photo really cool looking. Great photos to tell the story

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