David Lesh owns a ski and snowboard outerwear company based in Colorado. The Colorado resident purchased a drone to film aerial ski and snowboard videos. This weekend, while visiting his girlfriend's family in Fitchburg, he found a new use for his drone that he never expected.
"I never thought that I would be using it to find somebody," Lesh said.
When he heard about 82-year-old Guillermo DeVenecia, who had been missing for three days, he figured he'd step in to help.
"We weren't really sure what we would find or what kind of shape he would be in if we did find him... I don't think any of us expected to find him," Lesh said.
After a three day search with a helicopter, search dogs and hundreds of volunteers, Lesh sent up his drone to look at a 200-acre bean field, from about 200 feet in the air.
"I thought what would happen would be we'd be able to give them the piece of mind to cross of some more areas quickly," said Katie Gorman, Lesh's girlfriend.
In what would have taken volunteers hours to search on foot, in just 20 minutes Lesh had combed through most of the field.
As they headed to the final corner of the field, Lesh noticed a man standing in the middle of it.
"As we were making the last turn to fly it, we noticed a man out in the field sort of stumbling, looking a little disoriented," Lesh said.
Sure enough, that man was DeVenecia. Lesh, Katie and her father, Gary Gorman, carried DeVenecia to their car.
"To be honest, when David was flying the drone over the bean fields, we thought we were looking for a body," said Gary, who was surprised at DeVenecia's condition.