Drone pilot's 'diligence' helps Greater Manchester Police find girl

Michael Hooper Image copyright GMP
Image caption Police praised Michael Hooper's "skill and generosity"

A drone pilot who has been commended by police after using his skills to find a missing teenager has said he was "just really glad" she was found.

Police were struggling to locate the 14-year-old girl after she went missing near Manchester Ship Canal on 12 August and turned to Michael Hooper for help.

Mr Hooper, who was flying his drone nearby, found where she was hiding and stayed with her until police arrived.

Receiving a police award, he said it was "something anyone would have done".

A Greater Manchester Police (GMP) spokesman said officers accepted Mr Hooper's offer to help as both the area's police helicopter and the force's own drone unit were not available.

'Skill and generosity'

The 59-year-old, who had been flying his drone near the search area at Irlam Locks in Salford, was given a description of the girl and used his drone "to search inaccessible areas", the spokesman said.

He said Mr Hooper found her a short time later "behind trees on the bankside, which had hidden her from the sight of the officers on the ground".

He then approached the girl to check on her welfare, but as she would not engage with him, "he retreated, but kept her within his sights" and contacted police.

As a result, she was returned "safe and well" to her parents, who were "understandably worried", the police spokesman added.

Receiving a Chief Constable's Citizen's Commendation, Mr Hooper said he felt "quite embarrassed, as it was just something that was done by reaction - something that anyone else would have done".

"I was just really glad that we managed to find the girl," he added.

GMP Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said the search for the teenager "would have been much more challenging" without Mr Hooper's help.

"Michael's diligence, skill and generosity with his time, bridged a vital gap in air support resourcing," he added.

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