Drone helps find missing woman in her 90s


PLEASANT HILL, MO (KCTV) — A Missouri couple who met overseas never imagined one of their wildest stories would happen a quarter mile from their house.

For hours, one of them went missing over the weekend in a wooded area on their property.

Chris and Dale love taking strolls. Over the years and with age, they’ve become less frequent and much shorter. But on Sunday, Chris decided she could take a walk on her own. She did so around sunset, getting lost into the night.

“It was close to midnight,” Dale Fairchild said.

On 18 acres of land, he feared the worst when his wife of nearly 65 years didn’t return home from her walk.

“Just kept on walking and walking and walking,” she said. “By the time I really found out where I thought I was, I was a really long way.”

“Our concern was: 93 years old, it’s dark, and this time of year it’s nice during the day and then at night the temperature really drops off,” said Major Kevin Tieman with the Cass County Sheriff’s Office.

By sundown, Dale went looking for Chris with a flashlight in his pocket. He lost his footing at one point and fell.

“Turned around and walked all the way on my hands and knees,” he said. “That was a long journey.”

Once back home, he called the sheriff’s office.

“Time is precious in situations,” Major Tieman said.

“I was praying and worrying,” Dale said.

From liftoff to finding Chris in the field took major Tieman four minutes.

“Without that drone, I don’t know how long it would have taken,” Dale said.

The drone took over to do the job of dozens of deputies, searching for what would have been hours.

“To hear it over the radio, to hear the deputies talking about, ‘We found her. She’s here. Yeah, we’re going to be able to walk her out,’ is a really good feeling,” Tieman said.

Once Chris was cleared by medical, came an hour-long embrace.

“But he didn’t yell at me,” she said.

“It was a delayed but very happy reunion,” Dale said. “A miracle.”

The only thing still missing?

“I lost one of my shoes on the way,” Chris said.

The Fairchilds have some new house rules. No more walks alone — they have to go together — and they won’t exceed any distance where they can’t see their home.

The Cass County Sheriff’s Office bought the UAV (drone) with money from an anonymous donor they received in 2019.

The flare camera capabilities allow deputies to search at night.

The flare camera has helped the sheriff’s office with a range of situation, from finding suspects hiding to keeping deputies safe from danger by getting a bird’s eye view of what’s around them.

Currently two members of the force are trained to fly the drone. Four others are in training.

KCTV5.com is now with you on the go! Get the latest news updates and video, StormTrack5 weather forecast, weather radar, special investigative reports, sports headlines and much more from KCTV5 News. 

>> Click/tap here to download our free mobile app. <<