Family member donates drone in name of crash victim

Thomas Dougall wants to help the Volusia County Sheriff's Office save lives with this drone. He donated it to honor his niece, Carly Bowie.

Brown died last December, after a crash sent her flying off of a bridge into the Tomoka River.  She was driving home after a night of celebrating her 21st birthday.

"It's like, what do you do? You know? My baby's lost, and the only way I know how to help is give back," Dougall said. 

Sheriff Mike Chitwood says the Sheriff's Office couldn't fly its helicopter the night of Bowie's crash.

"We couldn't fly Air One that day, because of low ceiling and fog, and the family just felt that if we had a drone we may have been able to locate her sooner."

Dougall raised about $700 and purchased the drone for the Sheriff's Office, so that they can get to places a helicopter can't.

"It'll be able to navigate through this terrain -- it's really marshy, it's just going to give them another tool in their arsenal to be able to save people," says Dougall, who wants to continue to provide drones to the Sheriff's Office. 

The only problem is, under Florida law, law enforcement can't fly drones. The Sheriff's Office will now have to hire someone outside of the agency to fly it.

"We're going to bring those guys in as special deputies, and God forbid, if someone something like that happens again, they'll be able to operate that drone for us and we'll be able to watch and adjust our rescue patterns accordingly."

Sheriff Chitwood says drones are the technology of the future and wants Florida lawmakers to get on board.

"The cost to fly our helicopter here in Volusia County is about $2 million a year.  For a third of that price, I can have a drone on the east side and the west side of the county, search and rescue, and it would be much safer, much cheaper and more efficient."

Dougall says he will host benefits in Bowie's honor to raise money for more drone purchases for law enforcement. 

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