Gwinnett County police are praising new aviation equipment that they said helped locate a missing Hall County man earlier this month.

The Hall County Sheriff’s Office requested assistance from the Gwinnett County Police Department’s Aviation Unit on April 17 as deputies searched for a 40-year-old man who had gone missing after he walked away from his home in Gainesville.

“The male had recently moved from Florida and was not familiar with the area. He was not currently taking his prescription medicine, and his family was worried for his safety due to his diminished mental capacity,” police said in a statement. “Within 54 minutes of taking off from Gwinnett’s Briscoe Field, the Aviation Unit located the male in the woods approximately one mile from his residence.

“He was reunited with his family by Hall County deputies in good health. The male told deputies that he walked out of the woods because he could hear his name being called from the helicopter’s PA system.”

The helicopter used to find the man was a new MD 530F with new technology, such as a PA system that its pilots can use to make announcements, and police said this was one of the first “noteworthy” finds using the helicopter.

The PA system on the helicopter can be used to distribute vital information for residents in a specific area. In addition to the announcement system, the helicopter’s technology includes a forward looking infrared camera system which can show heat signatures generated by vehicles, animals and people, which can be used to locate people at night.

“The Aviation Unit routinely assists neighboring counties, as well as all areas of the Police Department as a locating tool for finding missing children/adults, suspects, vehicles and property,” police said. “They also play a critical role in coordinating with uniform officers during foot or vehicle pursuits, K9 searches, and incidents effecting traffic on the roadways.”

I'm a Crawford Long baby who grew up in Marietta and eventually wandered to the University of Southern Mississippi for college. Earned a BA in journalism (double minor in political science and history). Previously worked in Florida and Clayton County.

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