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Stolen drone, video footage for virtual concert returned to Roanoke Valley Children’s Choir

Choir director says it’s a ‘hopeful lesson that we all need at this time’

Stolen drone returned to local children's choir

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the Roanoke Valley Children’s Choir had to shift to virtual concerts and rehearsals.

Since August, they’ve been rehearsing for weeks, both virtually and during socially distant practice sessions.

On Saturday, the group was filming a video for their virtual holiday concert at Green Hill Park in Roanoke County. After more than three hours of filming, the videographer set down the drone for just five minutes. When they came back — the drone and the attached cellphone that acts as the controller — were missing.

“I didn’t really notice anything because we were all so focused on getting the recording done,” said Madison Church, a choir member and junior at Salem High School.

“I was a little spooked, I guess because someone was really bold to come up near our group and do something like that. We guess it happened while they were out there. No one really saw them because it was so dark,” said parent Laurie Otey-Williams.

The group spent hours searching the park and talked with the police. Choir Director Kimberly Davidson, and her son who was the videographer, tracked his phone to a house before the phone died.

“They could definitely see that we were filming something important, so it was just sad that someone had that in them to do that,” said choir member and senior at Lord Botetourt High School Clara Johnston.

The group was ready to film the concert all over again, when someone discovered the device in a different spot in the park on Sunday morning.

Davidson saw a post on social media from the man who had found the drone and was able to get in touch with him to return the drone and the phone.

“I was really relieved because I was worried that we would have to re-film everything again,” said Eliza Otey, an 8th grader at William Byrd Middle School who sings in the choir. “It was scary.”

Davidson, the children and their parents were relieved to learn that all the video footage was still there.

“Even people who do something they shouldn’t have, they can redeem it and be better," said Davidson. “It’s a wonderful feeling, it’s a wonderful lesson, a life lesson, and a hopeful lesson that we all need at this time.”

About the Author:

Lindsey joined the WSLS 10 team as a reporter in February 2019 and is thrilled to call Roanoke her new home!