Bedford FD's drone locates missing Nathalie boy after it malfunctioned

BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ7)-- We are learning more about what it took to bring a missing 4-year-old home safely in Halifax County. Trent Rudd went missing Wednesday evening in Nathalie. The search was extensive and required multiple agencies, including the Bedford Fire Department and their drone.

Wednesday night, Bedford’s “Drone 1” had a mission to help find Rudd after Halifax sent in a request for assistance. By that point it was dark, around 9:00 at night.

“I was visual for the drone of when it was coming back,” said Firefighter EMT MJ McGinnis. “An extra set of eyes for the pilot.”

The drone was on its 4th flight around the woods and McGinnis was watching the screen like a hawk. When all of a sudden, “the screen popped up error and then data lost, connnection lost,” said McGinnis. “The screen went black.”

The video from the infrared camera on the drone shows the scene just before the drone malfunctioned. You can see a moving dot, a person. The operators thought it could be Rudd, and then everything was lost.

“When I saw the screen at that point I was like uh….what just happened,” said McGinnis.

The dot ended up being a state trooper in the woods searching, not Rudd himself. The trooper called to let them know he was walking to grab the drone, but on his way he got a surprise.

“The trooper contacted them and he said he found the little boy and he sees the drone,” said McGinnis.

After being missing for more than five hours, the “unexplainable malfunction” caused the drone to go down not 300 feet from Rudd.

The drone is destroyed, and they're still not sure what happened, but, for now, that's not what's important.

“I hate that it went down, but it went down for a reason and it went down for a good reason,” said McGinnis. “Because if that drone would not have went down and that trooper did not see it we would still be out there looking for the little kid.”