The underwater drone donated to the Bingham County Sheriff’s Office. It’s been named “Jayden’s Drone” in honor of Pocatello teen Jayden Jensen, who drowned in December. | Courtesy photo
BINGHAM COUNTY — An underwater drone has been donated to local search and rescue teams. It has been named “Jayden’s Drone” in honor of the 16-year-old Pocatello teen who drowned in the Snake River on Dec. 6, 2023, while he was duck hunting with a group of friends.
“It is a much-needed tool for them in underwater rescues,” Shawn Jensen, Jayden’s father, posted on the Bringing Jayden Home Facebook page. “It is something that will help make diving safer … and help fill that gap between radar and side scan.”
Jensen purchased the drone for the Bingham County Sheriff’s Office after his childhood friend, Jenny Heckendorf, presented him with a $2,700 donation from her employer, COUNTRY Financial.
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“The recent search for Jayden Jensen in the Snake River was absolutely heart-wrenching,” Heckendorf said in a news release. “I saw the devastating effect to family and friends but also the heroic efforts of volunteers and the Bingham County Search and Rescue team during the almost month-long search. I hope this important tool will help families in the future avoid the trauma of a lengthy search for a loved one and keep divers safe.”
The Bingham County Sheriff’s Office, the Jensen family and many local volunteers spent several weeks searching for Jayden after he disappeared in the water. Due to increasingly harsh winter weather conditions, authorities eventually had to call off the official search.
Shawn Jensen, right, with his late son Jayden. | Courtesy photo
Jayden’s body was found on Jan. 1 by a group of local volunteers using their own underwater drone.
“Recently, (searchers) were able to procure the donated use of an underwater drone that was nimble and maneuverable enough to navigate some of the more difficult areas,” the Bingham County Sheriff’s Office posted on Facebook at the time. “Thankfully, this was a recipe for success.”
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The drone will be shared with neighboring counties for future search and rescue operations. It is an “amazing sentiment” and a powerful image of Jayden for the search and rescue teams to carry with them, Bingham County Chief Deputy Jordyn Nebeker told EastIdahoNews.com.
“I can’t think of a better way to memorialize and honor Jayden. It honors his life while honoring the efforts of all who searched so long for him … he truly became a part of us. But now, there’s a physical manifestation that he’s there,” Nebeker said. “He’s on-scene, right there with us, joining the cause.”
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