2-year-old Kevin Hochsprung is doing great after giving his parents and first responders a scare on Saturday according to his mother Kistrina Hocksprung.
The boy was the subject of a major search when he went missing from his home on in Minot, ND for several hours.
After noticing Kevin was missing the boy’s parents searched their yard and street as far as a neighborhood gas station, where Hochsprung occasionally had walked with Kevin. Unable to locate the boy, they called Minot Police Department.
“I was absolutely terrified that somebody had taken my child,” Hochsprung said. However, in her desperation to find her son, she never gave thought to the potential danger until later when she saw the dive team preparing to search a water body near viaduct.
It is estimated that 100 volunteer searchers participated in the search including several of Hochsprung’s co-workers, a police K9 team and unmanned aviation company SkySkopes that responded with two aircraft and a search plan within 20 minutes of a call from police.
“I knew I could call on SkySkopes,” Police Chief John Klug said in a news release. “I was also aware that they had FAA waivers to conduct UAS operations over people with their aircraft.”
SkySkopes’ CEO Matt Dunlevy and Klug had become acquainted after graduating together last summer from the U.S. Air Force Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. They had attended as civilians at the invitation of the Secretary of the Air Force.
“It was great to put some of the lessons from the Air War College into practice in the real world,” Dunlevy said. “We have done mock emergency response scenarios and actual emergency response scenarios all over the country. This is one of the things we like to be known for.”
The pilots and drones searched a wooded area using thermal sensors and other technology previously purchased with the help of Minot’s MAGIC Fund.
“Some of the drone imagery taken during the search clearly demonstrates the usefulness of UAS in search-and-rescue missions,” said Sebastian Gomez, SkySkopes’ Minot operations manager and mission commander for the quick reaction efforts in a news release. “That this occurred in our backyard highlights the value of our pilots to our communities.”
“Some of the drone imagery taken during the search clearly demonstrates the usefulness of search-and-rescue drones.” said Sebastian Gomez, SkySkopes’ Minot Operations Manager and Mission Commander. “We are known throughout the country as the operators to call for public response especially needing emergency urgency. That this occurred in our backyard highlights the value of our pilots to our communities. This is also why we are certified as ‘Essential Service Personnel’ in states hit even harder by the coronavirus.”
Consistently named one of Frost & Sullivan’s Top 5 Drone Service Providers globally, SkySkopes was the first drone services company to perform power line stringing in the U.S. in addition to offering search-and-rescue drones.
Dunlevy founded SkySkopes as a spinoff of a class he was teaching at the business college at the University of North Dakota in 2014, when Dunlevy saw the potential for drone service providers in the area – even prior to Part 107, when flying legally required a Section 333 Exemption from the FAA. In 2015, SkySkopes became the first startup in North Dakota to receive permissions to fly commercially.
Police eventually found Kevin curled up and asleep on a couch in the back entry of a house two doors down from his home. He was wearing a blue and green Monsters Inc. T-shirt, diaper and his snow boots that he had slipped on before going exploring.