Updated: Sunday, July 20, 2014 --- 9:36 p.m.
David Lesh owns a ski and snowboard outerwear company based in Colorado. The Colorado resident purchased a drone to film aerial ski and snowboard videos. This weekend, while visiting his girlfriend's family in Fitchburg, he found a new use for his drone that he never expected.
"I never thought that I would be using it to find somebody," Lesh said.
When he heard about 82-year-old Guillermo DeVenecia, who had been missing for three days, he figured he'd step in to help.
"We weren't really sure what we would find or what kind of shape he would be in if we did find him... I don't think any of us expected to find him," Lesh said.
After a three day search with a helicopter, search dogs and hundreds of volunteers, Lesh sent up his drone to look at a 200-acre bean field, from about 200 feet in the air.
"I thought what would happen would be we'd be able to give them the piece of mind to cross of some more areas quickly," said Katie Gorman, Lesh's girlfriend.
In what would have taken volunteers hours to search on foot, in just 20 minutes Lesh had combed through most of the field.
As they headed to the final corner of the field, Lesh noticed a man standing in the middle of it.
"As we were making the last turn to fly it, we noticed a man out in the field sort of stumbling, looking a little disoriented," Lesh said.
Sure enough, that man was DeVenecia. Lesh, Katie and her father, Gary Gorman, carried DeVenecia to their car.
"To be honest, when David was flying the drone over the bean fields, we thought we were looking for a body," said Gary, who was surprised at DeVenecia's condition.
Lesh said the 82-year-old thought he had been out on a short walk, and didn't understand why people would be looking for him. Lesh said DeVenecia was in good spirits, cracking jokes on the car ride back to the command center.
"The mood from when we had left the command center and came back 40 minutes later was polar opposite... it was a really heartfelt moment," Lesh said.
DeVenecia was found to be in mostly good condition other than being dehydrated.
"I think that collective [effort] is truly what made this happy ending happen, and I think it's a really honest reflection of Madison and the communities within Madison that people just kind of gather together and do what needs to be done to help each other out," Katie said.
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2014 -- 4:29 p.m.
The 82-year-old Fitchburg man, Guillermo DeVenecia, has been safely found by volunteer searchers. He was found around 1:00 p.m. standing in a bean field near Whalen and Mutchler Roads in Fitchburg.
He was found to be responsive, but dehrydated. He is reunited with his family members. It is unclear how DeVenecia ended up in the field or if he had been continuing to walk in to the area since going missing on July 16th.
Posted on Wednesday, July 16, 2014 -- 8:52 p.m.
Fitchburg Police are asking for your help to find 82-year-old Guillermo B. DeVenecia. Guillermo suffers from dementia and is believed to have wandered away from his residence.
He was last seen at approximately 2:00 p.m. at his home in the 2100 block of Heywood Circle, near Whalen and Fish Hatchery Road, in the City of Fitchburg.
He is 5'9" tall, 148 lbs with gray hair. He is also hard of hearing. He was last seen wearing tan pants, a blue or brown shirt, and leather sandals. He goes by the name of Gill.
Anyone with information of Guillermo or his whereabouts, contact Fitchburg Police Department.