Volunteer with drone helps crews locate body of teen who fell while hiking

Posted at 5:55 PM, Aug 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-14 23:20:57-04

LITTLE COTTONWOOD CANYON, Utah – A citizen with a drone jumped in to help a search and rescue operation on Saturday, after a teenager went missing in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

Ultimately, it's thanks to the drone that the hiker's body was found and recovered.

Kris Krie and his brother own Aerial Operations, which provides drone services to businesses. His drone helped solve an hours-long mystery over the hiker's disappearance.

"I just happened to have a skill that could be helpful in that situation, so I stepped out and did it," Krie said on Sunday.

Krie said as he headed up to Snowbird with his drone in the trunk, he came across the search effort in the Lisa Falls area.

At that point, crews had been searching for hours for James Wade, 17, who was hiking with his family Saturday morning and left the group to climb higher in the Lisa Falls area.

His family reported him missing Saturday afternoon when he did not return. Search and rescue combed the treacherous terrain, and flew overhead in a helicopter.

Krie stopped and offered help with his drone.

"At first they were very apprehensive about it," he explained. "There's been lots of negative news about drones getting in the way."

Ultimately, he said they agreed and within minutes they were able to locate the teen’s body.

"Search and Rescue really knew... where he should be," Krie said, adding that they deserve credit for such a quick location of the body.

Still, Krie helped stop the search from turning into an overnight operation.

"Helicopter's one tool, ground personnel are another tool," Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder said Saturday. "Now these drones-- which sometimes get a very bad rap-- in this sense it's I think would be found to be a very valuable tool."

Search and rescue crews thanked Krie by giving him a special coin.

“I’m happy the crews get to go home, and the family got closure, and it was able to come to an end,” Krie said. “That's never something anybody wants to have drag on."

He said with all the negativity surrounding drone use, he hopes this incident will highlight how drones can be used for good causes.