MEIGS COUNTY, OH (WOWK) – From search and rescue missions to missing persons cases, the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office has been greatly assisted by their drone, which they say has helped them on nearly 30 separate cases since it was purchased in early 2022.

The purchase was made possible through a project between the sheriff’s office, Loyalty is Forever and the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office Furtherance of Justice Fund to honor the memory of the late former deputy Kenneth Hayes.

Hayes himself was reported as a missing person in October 2020. He was 80-years-old at the time. He had last been seen last seen on his motorcycle Oct. 14, 2020 at a stop sign in Harrisonville, and was reported missing the following day. The sheriff’s office announced days later that Hayes had been found dead near St. Route 143 after crashing into a ditch. Numerous community members joined in the rural search to locate Hayes.

The sheriff’s office says that incident led them to believe that if they had a drone, they could better locate missing individuals when such cases arise. This led to the “The Kenneth Hayes Memorial Drone Project,” which raised more than $3,500 for the purchase of drones through donations. The sheriff’s office then matched those efforts by contributing $3,600 to the purchase.

Meigs County Sheriff’s Office Scott Fitch says he wants the community to know that the effort to honor Hayes memory through the use of the drone has already been a success.

“Our office and our community remember Kenny Hayes and the heartbreak that was experienced in his passing. I feel that Kenny’s family, the community, and all those who contributed to the effort need to know that the drone has assisted our office on approximately 30 different cases since it was acquired in early 2022,” Fitch said. “These cases have ranged from search and rescue missions for missing adults with and without medical conditions, missing children who have wandered off from their loved ones, and individuals with mental illnesses. The drone has also been used for law enforcement purposes such as fleeing suspects, intelligence gathering, and stolen vehicles. I want to personally thank all those who donated to this cause and Loyalty is Forever for managing this project.”