Drone locates man injured in roll over crash

Mounties in Saskatchewan are crediting a high-tech drone for the rescue of a man who had walked away from his vehicle after a roll over crash and could not be found.

According to RCMP, the crash happened around 12:20 a.m. CST Thursday on Highway 5, about five kilometres east of St. Denis, Sask., which is about 35 kilometres east of Saskatoon.

Emergency crews were notified of the crash in a 911 call and police, ambulance and other rescue teams were dispatched.

However, when they arrived at the site of the roll over, there was no one in the vehicle.

"The examination of the scene indicated that at least one person had been in the vehicle and was injured," RCMP said, and a ground search was launched.

However, after scouring some 200 metres in all directions, there was still no sign of anyone.

RCMP then called in an air ambulance helicopter equipped with night vision equipment. That helicopter scanned an area about one kilometre around the crash site, again with no results.

Finally, about an hour into the search, RCMP called for their drone, an unmanned aerial vehicle, that has an infrared camera mounted on it.

The drone was at the scene, preparing to launch, when RCMP received a cell phone call from the injured man, a 25-year-old.

"He indicated he was cold, did not know where he was and could give no directions to his location," RCMP said. He was only dressed in T-shirt and pants. He had lost his shoes in the crash.

RCMP said the temperature was near zero at the time.

Police said they used the cell phone's signal to get a better idea of the man's location.

The new search area was a field about 1.7 kilometres south of the roll over.

The drone was launched and a small heat signature was detected.

Searchers were sent to that heat source, which was about 200 metres from the cell phone's last GPS ping.

"Fire and rescue members located the driver at this first location, curled up in a ball at the base of a tree next to snow bank," RCMP said. "He was unresponsive and was quickly brought out to the road."

He was taken to hospital in Saskatoon for treatment.

The nature of his injuries was not immediately available.

RCMP said using their drone with the heat sensing equipment was key in the rescue.