Firefighters use drone in Maine river rescue

They flew a drone with a haul line attached to the middle of the river, and an 18-year-old used it to pull a life jacket from the shore before being rescued

The Associated Press

MECHANIC FALLS, Maine — Officials in Maine used a drone to help deliver a life jacket to a boy stranded on a rock in the middle of a raging river before bringing him and another boy to safety.

Two boys needed rescuing Tuesday afternoon after their tube overturned in the Little Androscoggin River. Only the younger boy — 12-year-old Bryant Morgan — was wearing a life jacket.

Auburn Fire Chief Frank Roma tells WGME that before attempting the rescue, crews wanted to get a life jacket to 18-year-old Will Verbeke.

Roma said they used a drone to get a line to the boys so they could pull the vest to Verbeke.


Check out this great video shot by a drone of firefighters rescuing two people on the Little Androscoggin River.

Posted by WMTW-TV on Tuesday, June 30, 2015

"We wanted to make sure we got a life jacket on that second child so that if they did fall in the water, we could catch them downstream," Roma said.

With both boys safely in the vests, two Auburn firefighters paddled out to them, rescuing the younger boy first, and then going back for the teenager. The rescue took about two hours.

The water was so rough that one rescuer was thrown from the raft, drone footage showed. His fellow rescuer pulled him right back onto the boat.

Officials say they hope this serves as a reminder to stay away from dangerous water.

"First and foremost, anytime you're playing or operating around water, have a life jacket on," Roma said.

Roma said the drone was brought to the scene originally to capture rescue efforts. It ended up becoming an integral part of the rescue when it delivered the life jacket.

The Sun Journal first reported the rescue.

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