Drone helping find unmarked graves

FORT PIERRE, S.D. (DRG News) – The process of finding potential unmarked graves at Fort Pierre’s Cedar Hills Cemetery is getting some help this week from state geologists and a drone from Wyoming.

Dustin Lloyd is the burial coordinator at the South Dakota Archaeological Research Center in Rapid City. He says records on who is buried where in the centuries old cemetery weren’t always kept up to date.

Lloyd says finding unmarked graves isn’t an exact science, but there are some tell-tale clues.

He says when they find a potential unmarked grave, they mark the spot and do some research.

Chris Leatherman from Gillette, WY, is an FAA certified drone operator and an adjunct instructor in drone and GIS studies for the University of Denver. He says mapping out a cemetery is a fairly new application for drones.

The interest in locating unmarked graves in Cedar Hills Cemetery grew last year when the Fort Pierre City Council asked for public input about whether or not the town should continue to sell plots. Mapping the cemetery will help determine how much space is actually available.