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Drone video shows search for children, adults after canoes capsized

Posted at 10:52 AM, Jun 14, 2023

SOUTH SALT LAKE, Utah — New video shows how the South Salt Lake Police Department operated their search after receiving a call that children and adults had fallen into the Jordan River when their canoes capsized.

WATCH: Police departments have eyes in the sky with help from drones

Two of the four canoes with the Tracy Aviary's camp excursion capsized Tuesday, sending seven middle school students and two adults went into the river.

South Salt Lake police and local fire crews responded to the scene, along with special piece of equipment that proved as vital "eyes in the sky" during the search for the group that fell into the water.

The department immediately utilized its Unmanned Aircraft System, commonly known as a "drone," to cover the area. While the canoes flipped in one section of the river, the strong current carried the group downstream and away from where the boat's originally capsized.

In video released Wednesday, the drone can be seen quickly hovering over one of the canoes before heading up river and finding some members of the group. After continuing the search, the drone later finds the remaining children and adults.

In a heavily wooded area, the drone operated by Ofc. Mullins gave the department a much-needed overhead look to determine the safety of those that had fallen into the river.

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Officer Mullins with the South Salt Lake Police Department holds the drone used in the search for children and adults who had fallen in the Jordan River after their canoes capsized

All members of the group were wearing life jackets and safely made it out of the river by the time rescue crews arrived. No one was injured, although one child was taken to the hospital at the request of their parents.

“I'm not sure it would have played out differently, but it would have delayed locating them," said Danielle Croyle, Executive Officer with the South Salt Lake City Police Department.

“That's a huge area," said Croyle. "But to cover something quickly and help locate where those individuals were, we were able to deploy our UAS.”

“Technology is constantly evolving," said Croyle. "Law enforcement, we like to be on the forefront of it. But we can't really afford it sometimes.”

A handful of police departments along the Wasatch Front use this same technology for search and rescues, said Croyle.

“This is something that is going to continue to expand and evolve over time because we have seen that it is successful," she said.