Crews to use drone in search for Hannah Graham - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Crews to use drone in search for Hannah Graham

Search crews used a drone to try and find Hannah Graham in what may be the largest search ever in the Commonwealth (Source: NBC12) Search crews used a drone to try and find Hannah Graham in what may be the largest search ever in the Commonwealth (Source: NBC12)
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (WWBT) -

Search crews broke out a new tool in the search for Hannah Graham on Wednesday --  a drone that can help cover ground in what's being called the biggest search effort Virginia has ever seen.

This is the first time state law enforcement has ever used drones in a search, providing a new perspective for the dozens of crews still on the ground.

Police say the suspect in Graham's disappearance, Jesse Matthew, has nothing to say even as he faces a court hearing Thursday morning.

Investigators are convinced it's just what they need to cover ground even trained search crews can't do alone.

"This is probably one of the greatest search efforts the commonwealth has ever seen," said Mark Eggeman with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

Now that search to find Hannah Graham includes a new set of eyes in the sky that's never been used before.

"It has cameras onboard and sensors and technology. Deployment of the UAS will be done over property where we get permission to fly over first from the property owners," said Chief Steve Sellers.

The drone comes at Sellers' request who obtained it from Virginia Tech to scour areas the dozen crews now on the ground can't do by themselves.

"We have some certain areas within our search patterns that's difficult for helicopters to get into and very difficult for ground crews to get into even with ATVs," he said.

Some 55 trained searches, primarily police officers, combed trails, woods, and fields throughout the county Wednesday.

"The teams on the ATVs are going down the side of the roads slowly. There's a lot of areas where you can look down into the ditch. If you were just driving by in a vehicle, you would never see it," Eggeman added.

They're following up on tips from property owners, like clothing being found, buzzards, even foul odors - but still, no sign of Hannah.

"The search isn't over until we find Hannah Graham," said Chief Tim Longo.

He says Matthew has offered no information to help, giving his crews even more fuel to keep at it.

"Every single patch of this county that we can get to, we're going to search," Longo said.

Matthew's attorney has requested to postpone his client's abduction hearing originally scheduled to take place Thursday. The suspect is also charged with reckless driving and the bond hearing for that case is still set to happen Thursday morning.

Click here for full #BringHannahHome coverage: nbc12.com/hannah

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