A car that rolled over several times was sitting in a cotton field with several windows smashed.
Children’s toys, coloring book pages, slippers and a children’s school bag were strewn across the grounds.
And there was no one around the vehicle.
This was the scene last week along Highway 97 in Walnut Hill. First responders and volunteers searched the grounds, traversing row after row of thick cotton up to the waist in search of the driver, a child…anyone who might have been ejected from the vehicle.
The search had a happy ending, no one was found on the ground. The driver had fled.
One of the tools used in the search for a possible victim was a drone operated by a deputy from the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, 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’re building this program with a lot of training,” he said. “We need to understand the laws and case law regarding the violation of privacy. We’re looking at ways to use technology to better serve the people of Escambia County. »
“We can use drones to search for missing people, suspects in a wooded area…it allows for greater availability than other air units and the costs are tiny compared to a helicopter,” Hobbs added.
Pictured: Escambia County Sheriff’s Office Deputy D. Shaw, a certified drone operator, uses a drone to search a cotton field for a possible wreckage victim last week in Walnut Hill. Top inset in photo: Coloring book pages, toys and other children’s items were found in the field near an overturned car (lower inset). Photo below: the drone above the cotton field. Bottom of photo: Volunteers and first responders also walked through the cotton field. Photos from NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.