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'It was a happy moment': Drone operator helps find missing 6-year-old in Sherburne County

Updated: October 16, 2019 10:15 PM

Six-year-old Ethan Haus is home, with his dog by his side, after he was missing for hours in a Sherburne County cornfield.

He walked away from his family’s home with "Remington" just after 4 p.m. on Tuesday, according to the Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office. Finally, just before 2 a.m., he was located about a mile from the house.

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A man from St. Cloud is being credited with finding Ethan.

Steve Fines lives about six miles away and rushed to the search area when he heard the child was missing.

Fines runs an aerial imaging company.

“I have the drone and the thermal camera, which is the perfect tool,” he said. “I really had to go, I just had to go.”

He teamed up with deputies when he got to the scene. They assigned him to a grid.

Working with law enforcement, Fines used his heat-seeking technology to scan the area.

“I started off on one field, didn’t find anything, moved onto another, didn’t find anything,” he said.

When they saw a bright spot, a ground crew would be sent to check it out. Fines told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS they came across deer, otters, even a bear.

“You just felt an obligation to keep trying, nobody was going to quit,” he said.

The search was extensive. More than 600 volunteers combed the field.

Finally, after Fines had been flying the drone for about two and a half hours, he said they finally spotted the pair.

“We saw something lift its head up that looked like a dog,” he said. “At that point we got excited.”

He used lights on his drone to guide the field crews to the spot, where they found Ethan and Remington.

Missing 6-year-old found safe in Sherburne County

Fines watched with relief as Ethan was carried out and taken to an ambulance.

“It was fantastic, it was great,” he said. “I’m a parent. What those parents didn’t have to go through because of what we found, we all felt that. We all knew that that was good.”

“It was a lot of yelling, screaming. It was happy moment.”

Fines is being called a hero.

Still, he said he was just doing his part. Fines told us law enforcement organized the grid and a ground crew spotted a footprint, which led them to the boy.

“The only reason we found this kid was because of everybody,” said Fines. “It was everyone who did it.”

Ethan’s mother Sheri Haus told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS she couldn’t believe how many people cared about her son.

“We’re just overwhelmed by the number of people who came to help,” said Haus. “People we didn’t know came. We didn’t know tons of people, hundreds of people who came. We didn’t know them all. Thank you for coming.”

She said Ethan told them he got lost in the cornfield but that he could hear and see the helicopters overhead. He’s now happy to be home.

“We’re so thankful that he’s home and safe and that’s the best outcome we could have," said Haus.

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Credits

Callan Gray

Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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