Tulsa Air Support Officers Help Bring Missing Girl Home
TULSA, Oklahoma - News On 6 spoke with two Tulsa Police Officers who spotted 11-year-old Lily Buffington from the air and guided first responders to her location.
Those officers were flying in one of TPD's helicopters, searching for the young girl who went missing after she got off her school bus Monday.
They said finding Lily was like looking for a needle in a haystack, but by using infrared video a spotlight and some keen eyes - Tulsa Police were able to help bring her home.
"Police 2: I think I may have her here in the woods," came radio traffic from Tulsa's police helicopter during Monday night's search for Lily Buffington.
Those were the words rescuers were hoping to hear Monday night in Wagoner County.
Firefighters, police, and other first responders had been searching for the child and were finally able to breathe a sigh of relief.
"He's found her. She should be directly there in front of you," one of the officers said over the helicopter's radio system.
Buffington went missing after she got off her school bus Monday afternoon. Teams from multiple agencies and volunteers had been looking for her for hours. They asked for help from Tulsa Police's Air Support Unit.
"It's kind of like looking at a 'Where's Waldo' picture and trying to find something there," said Officer and Pilot Jayson Smith.
"It takes quite a while to search an area that big and do it thoroughly."
While Smith flew the helicopter, his partner used a massive spotlight and an infrared camera known as a FLIR, searching through the dense woods and rough terrain.
"It allows us to see a different spectrum of light instead of just looking in the normal color spectrum that we can all see," Smith said.
And just before 11:30 Monday night, Smith and his partner Todd Hanson spotted the 11-year-old.
"You got her, buddy, that's her."
"She was pretty much centrally located in that patch of woods out there which was surrounded almost entirely by water and strip mines," said Officer and Pilot Jayson Smith of the Air Support Unit.
The air crew guided rescuers who got to her location - and got her to safety.
"Saw her stand up on her own power and walk toward him, and at that point I was like 'okay, she's gonna be all right hopefully,'" said Tactical Flight Officer Todd Hanson of TPD’s Air Support Unit.