It didn’t take long for a VideoRay Pro 4 to prove itself to the Yolo County Sheriff’s Office in California. Since acquiring it in July 2019, the department has deployed the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to identify dozens of sunken vessels and participate in several search missions for drowning victims.

The latest assignment came on December 9, when the Pro 4 was dispatched to search for a 61-year-old fisherman who fell into the water from a steep embankment at Lake Berryessa, a popular recreational spot and the largest lake in Napa County.

Within two hours of the accident, Yolo’s ROV team was on the scene to assist in locating the victim. Once dropped in the water, it only took the submersible 30 minutes to find the fisherman in 10 to 15 feet of water, according to Lieutenant Matthew Davis from the sheriff’s office. A manipulator arm on the Pro 4 was used to help retrieve the victim, Davis noted.

He pointed out that this was the Pro 4’s fifth search for a drowning victim this year, and the fourth time it was used to help recover a victim.

“Our ROV has been an asset to our agency, a number of surrounding agencies, and the public,” Davis said. “To date it has performed flawlessly with no mechanical issues and little to no maintenance. Our ROV has proven itself to be a valuable asset and has assisted in providing closure to five families.”

The Pro 4 was purchased with a grant from the Sacramento Regional Sanitation District. Its primary purpose is to serve as a multi-agency tool for inspecting derelict vessels, sunken vessels, and sunken debris for water clarity hazards within the Sacramento River and Delta region, according to Davis.

“Our ROV serves a secondary role as a search and recovery tool for multiple agencies along the Sacramento River and Sacramento Delta,” Davis said. “The Pro 4 is also a regional and statewide search and recovery asset for the California Office of Emergency Services.”

ROV doing search and recovery along The Sacramento river.
A VideoRay Pro 4 owned by the Yolo County Sheriff’s Office in California approaches an improvised target during a training exercise.