- News - March, 1 2004
Exton, PA, March 1, 2004 – The St. Louis
County Sheriff's Office and Sheriff's Volunteer
Rescue Squad had just received its new 9-pound
VideoRay ROV (remotely operated vehicle) weeks
before they were called to Ashland, Wisconsin.
The Ashland County Sheriff requested that St.
Louis County attempt to locate the body of 44
year-old Tracy Schroeder, whose snowmobile plunged
into Chequamegon Bay on January 16. Divers had
previously made 19 difficult dives in shifting
ice in an effort to locate the victim. A diver
spent less than one minute in the 37-degree water
recovering the body, just five hours after the
search with the VideoRay began.
About a half-mile from shore, the toaster-oven
sized VideoRay was slipped through a hole in the
ice. The body was found in 18 feet of water with
the help of SeaSprite
sonar that can navigate and “see”
objects in poor visibility conditions. When the
video-equipped ROV encountered the body, the VideoRay’s
manipulator claw was clamped on an article of
clothing to anchor it until the body could be
removed. The recovery team cut the hole in the
ice to remove the body after seeing the ROV’s
lights through the ice.
Information gained while the VideoRay was operated
was passed on to the Ashland County Sheriff for
investigative purposes. St. Louis County Undersheriff
Dave Phillips, Deputy Sheriff Duane Nelson, and
Rescue Squad members Lt. Tom Crossmon and Lt.
Dirk VerSteeg operated the VideoRay. Phillips
stated that the team effort of the Ashland County
Sheriff’s Office, Ashland Fire Department,
and Sawyer County Sheriff’s Office Dive
Team made the search with the ROV a very professional
and focused effort.
Pro II is equipped with a video eye that sends
a live feed to a screen seen by the operator who
is on the dock or a boat. The Sea
Sprite sonar is used for locating targets
as well as for navigation. By using the image
of the snowmobile as a point of reference, the
sonar could see for a range of 60 feet and gather
images from a 360-degree radius. Searchers correctly
assumed the victim would swim directly for shore
from the snowmobile, and the body was located
250 feet from where the snowmobile was found two
weeks earlier by the dive team.
The St. Louis County Sheriff's Office and Rescue
Squad purchased the VideoRay Pro II through a
Homeland Security grant with the State of Minnesota.
According to Phillips, the Sheriff’s Office
plans to use the VideoRay to help in search and
recovery efforts of drowning victims, documenting
underwater crime scenes, and as part of a Homeland
Security program for the State of Minnesota. Phillips
says the VideoRay was chosen for its affordability,
portability, easy operation, and ability to operate
in cold, dark waters.
Phillips stated to the Duluth News Tribune, “What
our goal was when we acquired this [VideoRay]
is to get the scuba divers out of the search business
and get them into the recovery business. This
was a simple matter of cutting a hole in the ice
and going to where the victim was found by the
ROV as opposed to spending time searching”
and endangering divers.
For more information, contact:
David Phillips, Undersheriff, St. Louis County
Sheriff's Office, Duluth, MN, PH: 218-726-2339,
Contact VideoRay LLC •
400 Eagleview Blvd. • Exton, PA 19341 USA
• Phone: (610) 458-3000 • FAX: (610)
458-3010 • www.videoray.com