Drone locates stranded hikers in Utah

A Utah sheriff's search-and-rescue team has put one of its newest pieces of equipment — an aerial drone — to good use yet again by tracking down some hikers in distress this week.

"Around 3 p.m. [Tuesday] we got a call that we had two stranded hikers up Beus Canyon," Lt. Mark Horton said. "They got into a situation where they realized they needed help." 

The two hikers were more than five miles from the trailhead in Weber County and had ventured off the trail when they got cliffed out. 

"Steep banks with steep snow and ice and they didn’t feel comfortable trying to get back to the trail so they called 911," Horton said.

As search-and-rescue volunteers hit the trail and took off on foot, the drone was deployed. The camera on the aircraft has a long zoom, thermal imaging, and a laser range finder, according to drone team coordinator Kyle Nordfors.

The drone quickly located the two hikers. 

After getting word that their loved ones were stranded on the backside of Mount Ogden, family members gathered in the trailhead parking lot. 

"For them to sit here at this trailhead and to watch the rescue live was extremely comforting for them," Horton said.

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The video feed from the drone not only showed the rescuers on foot it also showed the moments that help arrived.

"The volunteers that come out in search and rescue are invaluable and they are the true heroes," Nordfors said. 

The hikers were suffering from hypothermia, so the Utah Department of Public Safety Aero Bureau came in to assist. The helicopter crew hoisted the hikers back to the trailhead where they walked away on their own power. 

The success of the mission was a true testament to the teamwork from those on the ground to the eyes in the sky.