It was a muggy spring morning in South Texas almost one year ago when Gene Robinson arrived at the swampy waters near Sam Houston Lake Estates. All that week the area had been a hive of activity, as authorities searched along the banks, diving underwater with scuba gear, and flying overhead in helicopters. 150 search-and-rescue personnel aided by 40 dogs had criss-crossed the thick forest around the lake on foot, ATVs, and horseback. Texas Rangers stood guard with rifles, protecting search parties from alligators, feral hogs, and large predatory cats.

The missing boy was Devon Davis, a two-year-old who had moved with his family to the area just a few weeks prior. While his mother was napping, Devon had wandered out of the house and disappeared. News of the lost child had gripped the state, and law enforcement had spared no expense. But after five days of searching, the mood was grim. The Texas Rangers were gathering in a trailer, their temporary headquarters. The plan was to call off the search at noon. With no options left, they decided to try one last-ditch effort. So they brought in Robinson, and his drone.