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National Guard drone aids search for missing teacher in El Dorado County

Ed Cavanaugh has been missing near Georgetown since July 17.
Ed Cavanaugh has been missing near Georgetown since July 17. CBS San Francisco

The search for missing Bay Area teacher Ed Cavanaugh in the backwoods of El Dorado County has included the use of a drone.

The California National Guard launched the remotely piloted aircraft on Wednesday to hunt for the 45-year-old last seen July 17 when he split away from his friend during an off-road ride in the Georgetown Divide.

The National Guard MQ-9 Reaper drone was used to aid civilian authorities in firefighting during the 2013 Rim fire near Yosemite. This is the first time the aircraft has been used in a search.

“We hope that this aircraft is able to provide El Dorado County with valuable information to the on-the-ground personnel,” said state Office of Emergency Services Director Mark Ghilarducci.

An Air Force fact sheet on the MQ-9 Reaper lists the wingspan at 66 feet and a fuel capacity of 600 gallons. The aircraft is listed with a range of 1,150 miles.

When part of the Air Force mission plan, the MQ-9 Reaper is an armed, medium-altitude aircraft that is employed primarily for intelligence collection.

Cavanaugh was last seen riding his blue Yamaha YZ250 motorbike in the Rock Creek trail system in the Georgetown area. Cavanaugh, a diabetic, is a teacher at San Francisco’s Downtown Continuation High School.

The Sheriff’s Office said he was last seen wearing Fox brand dirt bike riding clothing and a black helmet. If anyone has information regarding Cavanaugh, contact the sheriff’s dispatch at 530-621-6600.

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