Photographer Uses Thermal Camera and Drone to Find Missing 6-Year-Old Boy

Aerial Thermal Video Used to Find Missing Person

Example of thermal imaging. (Photo: Stock Photos from Fehmiu Roffytavare/Shutterstock)

We often discuss drones in terms of the incredible images they produce or, at times, the nuisance they can cause in public spaces. But one drone photographer has just proved that this technology can be life-saving. Drone photographer Steve Fines specializes in commercial imagery, but recently he used his thermal camera to help find a young boy lost in the woods.

Six-year-old Ethan Haus went missing after school. He'd gotten off the bus with his siblings, but soon ran off to play in the woods with his 8-year-old Britney Spaniel, Remmie. Unfortunately, he then got lost and couldn't make his way back home. As temperatures dropped, the entire community of Sherburne County, Minnesota came together to ensure he would be found. Fines was among the 600 volunteers who searched tirelessly for 10 hours while temperatures dropped to below 30 degrees Fahrenheit.

Though he's never used his thermal camera and drone this way previously, Fines' expertise was critical in the search, particularly as darkness set in. Around 1:40am, using information that ground volunteers had given him, Fines was able to narrow in on Ethan and Remmie. He quickly informed rescuers, who were able to make their way to the young boy, who was dressed in light clothing.

“I saw the dog, you can tell that dog is excited and happy. It's wagging [its tail]. I knew [at that moment] what had happened and that was phenomenal,” Fines told KARE 11 News of watching the rescue unfold.

Luckily, Ethan was just fine and was soon able to thank everyone who had a part in his rescue. For Fines, it was an incredible moment to be a part of. While many are hailing him as a hero, he's sure to point out that it was a group effort.

“While I was running the camera that found him and some of the news stories have focused on that, I only knew in which direction to look because volunteers on the ground had found a footprint that pointed me in the right direction,” he wrote on social media. “I knew which areas had already been searched because of the excellent coordination of the Sherburne County Sheriff. I had other volunteers running radios to coordinate ground search parties—the people moving across really rough ground to find him. There were 600 of us that found Ethan that night.”

Given the successful use of the drone, the Sherburne County Sheriff has stated that the department is looking into purchasing their own to help in future situations.

6-year-old Ethan Haus recently went missing after wandering into the woods to play with his dog after school.

As darkness fell and temperatures dropped, commercial drone photographer Steve Fines used his expertise to help locate the boy.

Watch the thermal imagining video that shows the moment that rescuers made their way to Ethan.

This image shows the line of 600 volunteers who spent 10 hours searching for Ethan.

Thanks to everyone's help, Ethan and Remmie are home safe and sound.

h/t: [Peta Pixel]

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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