Thanks to specialty gear provided through Texas
Parks and Wildlife Foundation’s (TPWF) Gear
Up for Game Wardens program, a Texas couple was
rescued in June after they got lost on the Colorado River in Coleman County
after a paddling trip went awry. The trip was supposed to end before nightfall,
but after a 9-hour ordeal during which they ran out of water, the dehydrated
couple realized they were lost and pulled their kayak ashore.
Fortunately, there was cell service, and the
husband was able to call 9-1-1 at about 10:30 p.m. The Coleman County sheriff’s
office turned to Texas Game Wardens for help.
“The couple did several things right, which
allowed us to find them much quicker than we otherwise might have,” explained
Runnels County Game Warden Cameron Ramsey, who is also the Unmanned Aerial
System (drone) operator in Central Texas. “They stopped, they built a fire and
they did not move after they made the 9-1-1 call.”
The couple’s approximate location was determined
from the cell phone call, and wardens headed to one of the remotest areas of
the county. That’s when Ramsey swung into action with the drone, which is outfitted
with a heat-sensitive camera. As other wardens and a sheriff’s deputy assisted,
Ramsey launched the drone and began searching the river. Within 14 minutes, the
camera picked up a heat signal from the kayaker’s campfire.
"We could see them waving at the camera and we
knew we had found them,” said Ramsey.
After capturing the GPS point, they drove as
close as they could get and then hiked in to make the rescue.
“We appreciate having access to this equipment
through the Gear Up for Game Wardens program, and this was the very first time
we’ve used it for a night operation,” said Ramsey. “It was pretty exciting that
the first time we put it to use, it was successful. Without this specialty
gear, a search like this could have taken many, many hours in this remote area
of the county.”
Ramsey also explained that the gear is only used
by wardens for rescue operations, not routine patrols related to hunting and
A big thank you to all the generous supporters who are helping Texas Game Wardens get the gear they
need to be safer and more effective in the field.