Exton, PA, August 13, 2004 ## On opposite sides of the globe, VideoRay underwater robots located the bodies of two drowning victims over the course of three days. In Hayward, Wisconsin, USA, a 46-year old woman was located from a bog after just two hours of searching with the VideoRay remotely operated vehicle (ROV). In Highland Loch, Scotland, the VideoRay located the body of an 18-year old boy in a day after efforts over the previous three days had failed.
“What we’re seeing with the VideoRay is that it speeds up the search process and makes recoveries safer and more predictable,” says Scott Bentley, president of VideoRay, the manufacturer of the 8-pound, video-equipped submersible. “We see that as a winning proposition for both the family of the victim and the divers who often put their lives on the line to make a recovery.”
In Wisconsin, authorities on Friday, August 6, 2004, recovered the body of Karen Peltz Gelazius, 46, of Chicago, missing since she dived into Kavanaugh Bay of the Chippewa Flowage near a bog to retrieve a fishing pole, according to reports from the Sawyer County Sheriff’s Office. The body was located Thursday when a Minnesota search and rescue team used a VideoRay robotic underwater camera to spot the body about 60 feet under the bog, which covers about 5 acres. Robin McCauley of the St. Louis County Sheriff's Office Rescue Squad operated the VideoRay that located Ms. Gelazius.
“By utilizing the VideoRay, we were able to find the drowning victim in some of the most adverse conditions I have ever seen,” says St. Louis County Undersheriff David Phillips. “The floating bog was the size of a city block and drifted 100 yards from the victim’s last known location. The VideoRay affirmed that the victim was still under the floating bog. The Sawyer County Dive Team was then able to work on recovery efforts.”
In Scotland, Dwane Wardrop, 18, from Kinlochbervie, Sutherland, was thrown into the waters of Loch Innis in the early hours of the morning Saturday, August 7, 2004, after his dinghy capsized. The 8-pound VideoRay Scout – an underwater robot that costs less than $6,000 USD – took over for a 24-pound ROV from the US that had failed after several days of trying to locate the teenager. Chris Myers of EUTEC (European Underwater Technology Centre), went to the site the evening of Monday, August 10, 2004, mobilized the VideoRay Scout on Tuesday afternoon, and recovered the body by 4pm that day. The VideoRay Scout is the entry level VideoRay, which Myers had only recently purchased to teach new pilots the basics of ROV use.
"Our VideoRay system was ideal for the task due to the limited work space available and the rapid response needed by our client,” says Chris Myers, managing director at EUTEC, who noted that the search was made challenging by poor visibility, low light, and bottom sediment. “The reliability of the ROV system and the abilities of our two system operators led to the successful conclusion of this task and allowed the police to recover the body of the deceased.”
“Loch Innis is in a very remote part of NW Scotland, and only an ROV system that could be packed in the trunk of a car could have been mobilised to this area at such short notice,” says Hugh MacKay, of Buccaneer Ltd., a company that works with EUTEC for technical support of VideoRay micro-ROVs. “This shows that good search techniques and the VideoRay operating methodology get results.”