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Enfield PD calls on Vernon drone unit to find missing man

A blind man with multiple medical issues got disoriented and was lost overnight in bitter cold, but a drone helped rescue him.
Credit: Vernon Police Dept.
First responders rescuing lost man in Enfield, as seen from a Vernon PD drone, Feb. 15, 2020

ENFIELD, Conn. — Around 8:45 a.m. on Saturday, Enfield Police were contacted by the family of Richard Doty. His brother could not reach the 62-year-old, who is blind and has other medical conditions. 

Based on past behavior, police believed he had walked away from home and become disoriented. Neighbors told police that they had not seen him since at least 10 a.m. on Friday the 14th. 

Overnight temperatures had reached the single digits, and police said "it was clear that time was of the essence for a successful outcome." Enfield reached out to the Vernon CT Police Department and a drone pilot from Vernon PD responded from home to assist. 

Sgt. Todd Thiel from the Vernon Police Department said, “It’s similar to kind of looking for a needle in a haystack, you know you just kind of go out there looking for something and just happen to spot something.”

After approximately 30 minutes of searching, Thiel spotted Doty with the drone, about 100 yards away from his home, down an embankment and hidden from view by trees and brush. 

The moment Doty was spotted Sgt. Thiel says rescue crews went through their own trouble getting to him.

“This stuff is probably about chest high that they are walking through, so it took some effort, “ said Sgt. Thiel.

According to Thiel, Doty was shivering after reportedly spending almost 30-hours outside in freezing temperatures. Personnel from the Enfield Fire Department, Thompsonville Fire Department, Enfield EMS and Enfield Police personnel carried Doty out, and he was taken to a hospital to be checked out and treated for exposure. 

In a release, the Enfield Police Department said they are "extremely grateful for the support of the Vernon, CT Police Department, Thompsonville Fire Department, Enfield EMS and Enfield Housing Authority to bring this event to a successful resolution."