Drone search


An aerial view of Williams County is photographed by a drone belonging to Rob Pendleton of United Legacy. The non-profit has aided in the search for Zackary Baldwin since a week after he was reported missing on June 26.

Despite a waning local response to calls for volunteer searchers, the hunt for a Williams County motorcyclist who went missing nearly two months ago is continuing. 

This week, a drone operator covered hundreds of miles of territory from an aerial perspective. 

Rob Pendleton, a member of United Legacy, a Minneapolis-based non-profit that has headed volunteer searches for Zackary Baldwin, estimates that he swept over about 600 miles of terrain since his arrival in Williston on Tuesday.

“So far it’s just a lot of nothing,” he said Thursday afternoon. “I’ve looked everywhere, I don’t know where he could be.”

The Air Force retiree drove in from Minneapolis to use a professional-level drone equipped with a camera to capture a bird’s eye view of waterways, ravines and terrain around sharp curves in roads that Baldwin was known to ride on. 

“I was trying to look at where he might have gone off the road and continued to go,” Pendleton said. 

Baldwin, 30, rode away from home the evening of June 26 after telling his wife he’d be back in about half an hour for dinner and a birthday celebration for the couple’s twin sons. He never returned, and was reported missing the next day. 

Exhaustive searches by local and regional law enforcement turned up no sign of Baldwin, who was riding a relatively new sports bike, and was, according to his family, an inexperienced rider. 

Pendleton flew his drone over county roads surrounding Baldwin’s home west of Williston, even venturing into Montana and to the shores of Lake Sakakawea. 

“Basically I’m just looking for a motorcycle,” he said. “I’ve done about every paved road (in the area).”

The number of volunteers turning out for organized searches put a stop to efforts about a week ago, said Deanna Villella of United Legacy. 

“Last weekend was the first weekend that we didn’t organize a public search, largely because we didn’t get any public response,” she said. “The biggest problem out there has been not getting volunteers to help search. I think from this point forward the mission is going to be getting awareness to hunters and farmers that there’s somebody still missing.”

The search and rescue group continues to remain in contact with Baldwin’s wife, Jessica Baldwin, who could not be reached for comment on Thursday. 

Jessica has set up a gofundme

account titled Help Zackary Baldwin’s family. Her husband was the sole breadwinner for the family, Villella said, adding that Jessica has been tireless in her efforts to spread the word about the disappearance. 

“She doesn’t want people to forget that her husband is missing and her children’s father is missing,” Villella said. 

More information on United Legacy’s assistance in the search for Baldwin can be found on the Facebook page “Help Find Zackary Baldwin.”

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