Guy Crashes Drone, Gets 30 Days in Jail

It might be the first sentence of its kind
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 28, 2017 10:56 AM CST
Guy Crashes Drone, Gets 30 Days in Jail
Look out below.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

In what is believed to be the first case of its kind, a 38-year-old man has been sentenced to time behind bars because he lost control of his drone. Paul Skinner, who owns an aerial photography business in Washington state, was found guilty of reckless endangerment in January and handed a $500 fine plus 30 days in jail in Seattle Municipal Court on Friday after an incident during Seattle's Pride Parade in 2015, per the BBC. Skinner’s drone—about 18 inches square and weighing two pounds, per Engadget—flew into a building, then dropped onto a crowd of people below, knocking a woman unconscious and leaving her with a concussion, reports the Seattle Times. A man also suffered minor bruises.

Judge Willie Gregory acknowledged Skinner hadn't meant to hurt anyone but said he "put people in danger of being injured." A prosecutor added drone "operators should know that we will continue to go after them when they disregard public safety." But Skinner's lawyer, who plans to appeal, tells the Times his client is being made an example of—a drone expert told the court he wasn't aware of a similar case involving a drone hobbyist sentenced to jail time—and his sentence is "too severe." With or without an appeal, Skinner will need to complete a drone safety course. A hearing scheduled for May will also determine how much restitution should be paid to the woman he injured. (Tigers destroyed a drone that appeared in their midst.)

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