FOUNTAIN, Colo. (CBS4)– John Wilson never thought his personal drone would ever be used to search for a missing child. Yet that’s exactly what the certified drone pilot is using his device for following the disappearance of 11-year-old Gannon Stauch.
“I put blue tape on here for Gannon,” Wilson said, showing CBS4 his drone and noting blue is Gannon’s favorite color.
“Anything I can do to help, helps,” he said.
Wilson lives just a few doors down from the Stauch family. He said doesn’t know the family well, but his kids play with Gannon and other children in the neighborhood.
“I have two boys and, if one were missing, I can’t even imagine what those parents are going through,” Wilson told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann.
Not long after Gannon disappeared last month, Wilson jumped into action to help. He coordinated with the FAA to fly his drone over the restricted airspace in his neighborhood in Fountain. Wilson and other volunteers thought the aerial approach would be useful to look for Gannon.
“We’re a good size neighborhood in the middle of nowhere. So everything around here is nothing but fields, ravines, huge creek, and there’s an abandoned golf course,” Wilson explained. “I can cover a significant amount of area. You don’t have to weave in and out of trees.”
Gannon was first reported missing on Jan. 27 after his stepmother said he didn’t return home from visiting a friend.
After more than two week of searching, crews were in Douglas County on Friday. The searchers used poles and other tools to search the snowpacked areas.
Wilson said to date he’s flown over more than six square miles of land looking for clues.
“So far everything has been a piece of trash or a stick that looked weird,” he said.
Yet sharing his videos on YouTube, he added, allows more eyes to look for any sign of Gannon.
“I’ve had comments from as far as the United Kingdom come in and say, ‘I saw something blue at three minutes of that third video,’” he said.
Even as the search for Gannon has moved to another county some 50 miles away from his home, Wilson’s drone footage is generating tips for investigators.
“There’s been five or six tips from the video that I know have been called into police,” Wilson said.
That has Wilson, and other neighbors, holding onto hope that Gannon will be found soon.
“Gannon is somewhere but he’s alive…and he’ll come home,” he said.
The FBI and other agencies have joined the search for Gannon.
If you see him, please call the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office right away at 719-390-5555 or 911.
If you have any information that can help in this case, call EPSO’s tipline at 719-520-6666 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.