Drone Interferes with Helicopter at Ohio Accident Scene

An Ohio man was arrested at the scene of a motor vehicle accident Saturday because a drone he was operating allegedly interfered with a Careflight helicopter.

Kele Stanley, 31, of Springfield, was charged with felony obstructing official business, misdemeanor disorderly conduct and misdemeanor misconduct at an emergency scene. Stanley is an amateur photo buff who was taking scene video of the accident in Clark County.

According to news reports, both fire officials and a Clark County sheriff’s duty asked Stanley to stop flying the drone, but he refused. Stanley claims he was not aware that a helicopter was enroute and had he been told would have immediately landed the drone. He was quoted by news sources as saying “I’m not an idiot.”

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At the present time, the FAA is developing new regulations for drone usage. The FAA’s position is that the use of drones for commercial purposes is prohibited, but recreational use is permitted provided the device does not go higher than 400 feet, is flown a sufficient distance from populated areas and regular aircraft, and any flights conducted within three miles of an airport are cleared with air traffic control.

There have been some recent challenges to the FAA’s jurisdiction over drones – including the ability to limit the commercial use of drones taking news footage, but cases like this speak to the urgency of the FAA addressing drone operations.

More on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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