93-year-old Cass County woman thankful for thermal drone technology used in her rescue

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PLEASANT HILL, Mo. — A missing 93-year-old Pleasant Hill woman is back home after deputies were able to find her in a field at night using a drone.

Chris Fairchild was trying to see if neighbors could get across the creek to mow the pasture on their 18-acre Cass County property. 

“It was getting to be sundown. She still wasn’t back, and I was getting pretty worried,” her husband, 91-year-old Dale Fairchild, said.

Dale went looking for her, but like his wife, didn’t have a cellphone.

“I was way up the road here, and I could’t walk. So all I could do was turn around and crawl on my hands and knees all the way back to the house,” he said.

But it was pitch dark on the gravel road at the rural property when a deputy arrived Sunday night after 8:30 p.m.

“He got his flashlight out and flashed all around. Of course he couldn’t find her. She was too far out,” Dale said.

So the Cass County Sheriff’s Office called in Maj. Kevin Tieman to fly the department’s unmanned aerial vehicle. 

“We knew time was of the essence. We wanted to get out there quick,” Tieman said.

Chris could hear the drone and cried out.

“I kept saying, ‘Come on, I’m here. Come on, I’m here,’” she said.

The drone was technology the couple in their 90s had never seen before.

Dale and Chris Fairchild

FOX4 showed the Fairchilds how it works and video of Chris’s rescue, explaining the two yellow dots were the deputies finding her stuck in a tractor’s rut, missing a shoe. They found Chris within five minutes of the drone’s launch.

“To go up and start searching a vast area of fields and pastures and to see that little yellow dot to know that’s the person you are looking for, it feels great,” Tieman said.

“They came right beside me and said, ‘Would you like to get out of here?’ and I said, ‘Sure,’” she recalled.

“It was an answer to prayer, I tell you. It was great,” Dale said. 

The couple married 65 years walked back into their home after seeing their first ever drone in action Thursday. A sign on the porch doubles as their future plans for long walks from now on. It reads, “DUN ROAMIN.” 

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