A police drone found a 75-year-old man stuck in marshes nearly 24 hours after he went missing on a family walk in Norfolk.
Peter Pugh became trapped among dense reed beds after he was separated from the group at a beach near Titchwell, at 5.10pm on Saturday.
Norfolk Police, lifeboat crews and the coastguard searched the area overnight, but they only spotted Mr Pugh when a drone was sent up into the air at 2.35pm on Sunday.
Sergeant Danny Leach, who piloted the drone, guided a coastguard team and firefighters to the deep muddy creed where he was stuck.
Mr Pugh, from Brancaster, was given first aid before a coastguard helicopter arrived to winch him out of the marshland.
He was taken by air ambulance to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn, where he was treated for hypothermia.
Rescuers said the drone was pivotal in saving his life.
Sergeant Alex Bucher, who helped co-ordinate the search operation, said: “There is no doubt that without the police drone we would not have been able to locate him in the time we did.
"The police drone allows us to search areas that are difficult to access and within close range where a helicopter may not be able to get.
“Approximately 50 people were directly involved with this search operation and it was through their dedication and hard work we were able to save this man’s life.”
Norfolk Police first trialled the use of drones last year to help search for missing people, obtain crime scene photography and investigate rural crime.
The force has two drone units, which can stay in the air for 20 minutes at a time and fly in winds of up to 50mph.
Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner, Lorne Green, described the rescue operation as “a remarkable achievement”.
“What a fantastic example of what can be achieved when our agencies work together and our police have the right tools for the job,” he added.
“Having pledged to give our officers the 21st century tools, including drones, that they need to keep our county safe, it’s incidents like this that demonstrate just how relevant that pledge was and continues to be.”
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies