Officials with the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office say they have spent the past 10 days combing through the miles-long Salinas River in hopes of finally locating missing 5-year-old Kyle Doan of San Miguel.
Doan went missing the morning of January 9 when the vehicle he and his mother were in was overtaken by floodwaters on their way to Lillian Larsen Elementary School in San Miguel.
Sergeant Ronald Slaughter says the area is filled with crooks and crevices that can be tough to reach on foot, adding that their Unmanned Aerial Systems Team has been called in to provide a bird's eye view of the landscape.
He says several drones have taken flight near San Miguel since the search for Kyle Doan began. He says changing water levels along the Salinas River have also made it more of a challenge to access certain spots but that the drones have been used to closely monitor those levels, as well as uncover additional areas for them to search.
"The drones become a force multiplier. It provides us a different vantage point and it enables us to check a wider area so we can help direct other resources where they need to be and basically create an efficient search," Sgt. Slaughter explained.
"It is efficient. It is quick in lieu of using the CHP helicopter or a plane. It is more economical, and it is something we are very happy to have," added SLO County Sheriff's Commander Keith Scott.
Commander Scott says the drones were also launched during last week's storms in San Luis Obispo County. They flew over the Pacific Dunes RV Resort in Oceano to help establish a strategy for rescuing those who were stranded.
UPDATE: the search for missing 5-year-old Kyle Doan.— SLO County Sheriff (@SLOSheriff) January 18, 2023
The Sheriff's Dive Team and Search and Rescue members have continued search operations today in the San Marcos Creek and the Salinas River area. Three Search and Rescue K9s are aiding in today’s search. pic.twitter.com/h8eEhpKkZc
The Sheriff's Office says several other local agencies including the Grover Beach Police Department and CHP have also assisted in the search for Kyle Doan. Sgt. Slaughter says they will continue flying drones over the San Miguel region as the search continues.