Using an unprecedented search technique, the California National Guard has launched a drone to help look for a missing San Francisco teacher after he was last seen almost two weeks ago while riding a motorcycle in the El Dorado National Forest.
The drone, formally called a “remotely piloted aircraft,” was set off into the air to look for 45-year-old Edward Cavanaugh Wednesday at the request of the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office and the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services, the National Guard said in a statement.
This is the first time such a vehicle has been used by the National Guard to aid a search-and-rescue effort, the National Guard said. The Guard previously tried out the use of drones to help firefighters battle the Rim Fire near Yosemite in 2013.
The drone, called an Air National Guard MQ-9 Reaper, left the March Air Reserve Base near Riverside, California, on Wednesday morning. Equipped with infrared sensors, image-intensified cameras and laser illuminators, the cameras send back detailed aerial pictures that are instantly relayed to National Guard ground crews.
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“This technology allows us to provide persistent coverage of the search area in support of our partner agencies," California's Adjutant General Maj. Gen. David S. Baldwin said.
Cavanaugh, a Downtown Continuation High School teacher who teaches outdoor education, was last seen July 17 riding his blue Yamaha YZ250 motorcycle in the Rock Creek trail system near Georgetown. He had been out with a friend, but took off on his own that day. His sister, Debbie Cavanaugh Schultz, told Dateline NBC she was especially worried about her brother because he is a diabetic who needs a daily dose of insulin.
Cavanaugh is described as 5'11", weighing 160 lbs with a bald head and a mustache. Anyone who sees him or knows where he is should call the Georgetown Ranger Station at (530) 333-4312 or the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office at (530) 621-5655.