Drones Get Waiver to Search for Missing Texas Woman Christina Morris

Residents shouldn't worry about privacy issues, volunteers say.

ByABC News
September 12, 2014, 9:16 AM

— -- A Texas search group has been given special permission to use drones to help find a woman who disappeared almost two weeks ago.

The first drone was launched Thursday over north Texas and was used to scour open fields for any sign of Christina Morris. Morris, 23, was spotted on surveillance footage Aug. 30 while walking with a friend in a mall parking lot.

Police haven’t released any leads in her disappearance.

The Federal Aviation Administration granted an emergency waiver allowing the searchers to fly drones for the next three days. The drones –- called “Super Bats” –- are equipped with high-resolution cameras that can snap up to 200 images every 10 minutes.

The drone flights also cost about one-tenth of a helicopter covering similar ground.

Gene Robinson with the volunteer group Texas Equusearch said residents shouldn’t worry about privacy matters.

“We are not out to invade anyone’s privacy. Once these images are used, they are erased,” Robinson said. “We are looking for Ms. Morris.”

Searchers are examining the images of a 20-mile grid, looking for anything out of place.

Morris’ mother, Jonni McElroy, is thankful for the new eyes in the sky. She believes someone has her daughter and she’s hoping the high-tech drones can help bring her daughter home.

“I have that feeling in my heart, that she was taken and she is somewhere, and they still have her and it’s time to give her back,” McElroy said.