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Police drone finds lost hunter near Byron

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BYRON — An 84-year-old man is recovering today in a Rochester hospital — and is lucky to be alive, authorities said — after getting lost while scouting a hunting spot.

The man's wife contacted law enforcement at 6:41 p.m. Saturday. She told deputies the victim had left their home about 3:45 p.m. and said he'd be back in 20 minutes, the report says.

The man has "a multitude of health issues," said Capt. Scott Behrns, of the Olmsted County Sheriff's Office, but his wife knew the area he'd planned to scout.

Officers set up "an extensive search" in the area of 7100 Valleyhigh Road Northwest and quickly found the man's vehicle. It was in a field about three-quarters of a mile off the road, stuck in mud.

Authorities contacted the Rochester Police Department, which deployed its drone , piloted by officers Rey Caban and Dave Thompson.

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The drone's infrared camera spotted the man at 9:38 p.m., about 90 minutes after it was launched. He was found about 250 yards from his vehicle, said Behrns, "curled up in the fetal position, soaking wet and unresponsive."

The victim was listed in good condition this morning, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

"Considering the area they were searching, it was a great job," Behrns said of the drone pilots. The man was found in an area described as "marshy" and not visible from the road or field.

"This is why we got the drone," said RPD Capt. John Sherwin.

The Minnesota State Patrol helicopters were unable to fly because of the weather Saturday night, the report says.

The drone, Behrns added, "is a life-saving tool."

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