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AquaEye handheld sonar device credited with finding missing swimmer on OBX

Posted at 10:43 AM, Aug 01, 2020

OUTER BANKS, N.C.- The world's first handheld sonar device for identifying bodies underwater was recently used in Kitty Hawk to find a missing swimmer.

"Normal rescue methods are inline searches, multiple people, multiple resources. This does all the looking for you, " said Phillip Lloyd, a representative with the company that developed AquaEye.

The technology is point-and-shoot, and uses artificial technology. It costs around $4,700.

"It is like a flashlight underwater, and it uses sonar," Lloyd said. "It can scan 85,000 square feet in just 4 minutes."

The AquaEye covers more ground in less time, with only one rescuer needed to operate Often, search and rescue and recovery efforts can take days using boats and grid searches to recover victims.

Only seven departments across the U.S have the device - including Duck Surf Rescue in Duck, North Carolina.

"This is so beneficial because it enables us to locate the body quicker, and we can put our resources back to what they normally would be doing," said Merik Dabrowski with Duck Surf Rescue.

"For the first hour, the body is considered viable, so that magic hour of any search, we want to try to revive the person," Dabrowski said. "There have been a lot of drownings where we don't recover the body. This way we can get it soon after the victim goes down, locate the victim and bring them back up."

It's a game-changer in the time-sensitive lifesaving industry, proven to show every second counts.

"You can get it on scene and see under the water, find the person, bring them to the surface, revive them and save their life," Lloyd said.

To learn more about the AquaEye, click here.