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Missing 2-year-old boy found thanks to thermal technology

<i>KOCO</i><br/>Authorities in western Oklahoma used thermal technology last weekend to find 2-year-old Levi (pictured here).
Authorities in western Oklahoma used thermal technology last weekend to find 2-year-old Levi (pictured here).

By Kilee Thomas

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    CLINTON, Oklahoma (KOCO) — Authorities in western Oklahoma used thermal technology last weekend to find a toddler who went missing from his Clinton home.

On Jan. 21, a 2-year-old boy named Levi disappeared from his home, sending his family into a frenzy looking for him.

“The way my heart dropped when I walked in and he didn’t run to me,” said Levi’s mom.

The family searched for 10 minutes before contacting the authorities.

“You don’t want to wait around and see if maybe you’ll find him. I think I made the right call,” said Levi’s mom.

Lt. Dylan Abner with the Clinton Fire Department said Levi’s house was south of town, and it was surrounded by open fields, thick brush and canyons.

“It was getting pretty cold, and it was going to get colder that night, so we knew time was of the essence,” Abner said.

First responders began searching all around the little boy’s home, but they also enlisted the help of some technology. The Elk City Fire Department, which was assisting with the search, used its thermal drone to help spot Levi.

“The more temperature difference we get between the person and the ground, the clearer it will show up on the thermal drone,” said Elk City fire Chief Kyle Chervenka.

Within 10 minutes, the drone spotted a red dot under a tree, a quarter of a mile away from Levi’s house.

“If you weren’t looking and knowing what you were looking for, you might have just overlooked it and moved past it,” Chervenka said.

Abner said Levi was found in thick brush by the tree. He was wearing sweatpants and a jacket, helping to keep him warm.

“He was just shocked,” said Levi’s mom. “In shock.”

Multiple agencies were involved in the search, including the Clinton police and firefighters, the Elk City Fire Department, the Custer County Sheriff’s Office, Oklahoma Highway Patrol and Sinor EMS.

After the incident, the community donated enough funds for the Clinton Fire Department to buy its own thermal drone.

“Best case scenario by far,” Abner said.

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