Death of Scott Co. man inspires purchase of search and rescue drone
SCOTT COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - A new search and rescue tool is on it's way to the Heartland.
The high tech drone is expected to save lives. It's thermal imaging camera with 4k resolution is said to be top of the line.
Developers say it can fly for days at a time if needed, and can tell if you are looking at a human or animal from the air.
It will be used across county and even state lines in the region.
The money to pay for it was crowdfunded by friends and family of Zack Johnston, of Scott County, who tragically lost his life back on January 20.
"The moment I got out of that car, and I put my foot on that soil, I knew he was gone," said Marsha Johnston.
The Johnstons lost their oldest son doing what he loved.
"He's been hunting since he was probably six years old," said Jim Johnston.
Zack Johnston was an avid outdoorsman and photographer.
The day after Johnston's body was found, family and friends set in motion a plan to purchase the search and rescue tool.
"There's nothing worse than losing somebody and not being able to find them," said family friend Marty Priggel.
Priggel along with Zack's childhood friends, Austin Raines and Myriah Miller, raised more than $8,000 towards the rescue project.
"We're not even friends – we're brothers," said Raines.
"I don't think any of our lives will ever be the same," said Miller.
They believe it's the least they can do for someone they say always looked out for others.
"He was always wanting to be there for others," said Raines.
"If we could cut two minutes off using that drone, or five minutes, or even a second of not having to wonder, that's priceless," Miller said.
It's something Zack's friends say is truly needed.
"There is not another thermal imaging camera that you can put up in the air between St. Louis and Memphis. This is for Kentucky, this is for Tennessee, this is for anybody that's in our area, that we can get to and help out. This is for everybody," said Priggel.
An effort everyone says Zack would be proud of.
"I think naming it ZJ, Zack Johnston, is helping that love for people and that love for wanting to help others live on forever," Miller said.
"Zack never sit still – ever, and with this ZJ drone project he'll be flying high forever," Marsha Johnston said.
Once the drone is paid off, their goal is to create a search and rescue trailer.
FLIR Thermal Imaging Corporation donated the Vue Pro camera.
We will bring you more on this story when the drone arrives.
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