Deputies use drones to find missing man 

SCV Sheriff’s Reserve Deputy Tony Buttitta explaining at the press conference how the missing person was rescued. Katherine Quezada/ The Signal

L.A. County Sheriff’s Department officials shared a happy ending to scary story Friday after a man reported missing in Val Verde was found on a hillside by drone operators from LASD’s Special Enforcement Bureau. 

Maxwell Perkins Cornell, 29, was reported missing around 1 p.m. Thursday from the 30000 block of Madison Way in Val Verde by family members who were concerned for his well-being, according to a Nixle news release issued by the department. The alert mentioned that Cornell was suffering from autism and anxiety. 

The initial call to SRT came from the Homicide Bureau at around 8 a.m., according to Tony Buttitta, a member of the local Search and Rescue Team. The LASD’s Homicide Bureau handles all of its missing-person investigations. 

Drones the SCV Sheriff’s department use tp carry our search operations in difficult locations. Katherine Quezada/ The Signal

After about an hour of searching the area with use of all-terrain vehicles, the team requested assistance from the department’s K-9 units and a few drone operators. 

“So our drone team from SEB came and searched a few areas, and then on their second deployment of the drones, within 10 minutes, spotted our subject about 25 feet over the side,” Buttitta said. 

Cornell was alert and uninjured, so the search party was able to direct him safely back to a point where he could meet up with the team, with the help of the drone operators, who helped him climb back up the hill, Buttitta added. 

Cornell was a frequent hiker, according to his friends and family, Buttitta said, but they became very concerned when he left Thursday evening and didn’t return. 

“I was able to talk to him on our walk back and he was just telling me how he’s very cold, very thirsty and he didn’t really have any experience on how to keep himself warm so he was out there in the elements,” he added.  

Buttitta said it was the second time in two days that the tech had been used to save a life, mentioning a rescue Thursday in Montrose, where the machines were used to find a critically injured patient.  

“In his condition, he would not be here if it weren’t for the drone,” Buttitta said, “so it’s a great tool that we’re starting to use a lot.”  

Katherine Quezada contributed to this report. 

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