SCARBOROUGH, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- An 86 year old man from Cumberland is thankful to be alive after being trapped in the Scarborough marsh for nearly 9 hours a few weeks ago.
Though just a few feet from Pine Point Road, apparently no one could see him, until officer Andrew Flynn happened by on patrol with a thermal imaging camera.
The cameras are installed in every police cruiser in the town of Scarborough.
Flynn uses the camera during his overnight patrols to scan the dark streets for any images that could be burglars running through the dark, or even warm cars parked in a dark parking lot - which sometimes leads to drug arrests.
Flynn didn't expect the warm body he discovered in the marsh on September 13th to be someone in trouble.
While driving down Pine Point Road, his camera picked up a warm image in the brush. He stopped, and noticed a car; while investigating the car, he heard cries for help, and just below an embankment -- feet away -- noticed the man lying near the marsh. The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, had gone bird watching, but slipped and fell.
With temperatures dipping into the 40s overnight, the man told officer Flynn he had come to terms with the fact he might die out there before anyone found him.
This is the second time thermal imaging cameras have helped officer Flynn possibly save a life. Last winter, Flynn discovered an elderly woman lost in the woods of Scarborough. She had become confused and walked away from a local nursing home in the middle of the night. He saw her warm image on the camera and took her to safety.
There has been some debate over the cameras themselves. When Scarborough PD posted this story to their Facebook page, they did get a few comments about invasion of privacy...
Mark wrote: "Now thermal imaging will be in every cop car and they can peer into your houses without a warrant," and Val said: "Thermal imaging is an invasive search technique to be employed only when there is suspicion of crime committed."
Officer Flynn says their cameras do not see objects through walls or windows, something we personally witnessed while cruising the neighborhood with the thermal camera turned on. At the most, Flynn says, he can make out a lighter shade if someone has smoke running through their chimney during the winter.