Man convicted for Seattle drone crash which knocked woman unconscious may face jail time

Jan 18, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Man convicted for Seattle drone crash which knocked woman unconscious may face jail time

Jan 18, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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38 year old Paul M. Skinner had been accused of engaging in a conduct that created a “substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury to another person”, and was charged. It comes from an incident in June 2015 when a woman was knocked unconscious when struck by Skinner’s drone during a Pride parade in downtown Seattle.

Seattle Times reports that Seattle Municipal Court agreed on Friday, and found him guilty of reckless endangerment. The six jury members reached a unanimous decision over the four day trial presided by Judge Willie Gregory.

According to police at the time, the woman was watching the parade when the drone ht a nearby building. It then fell into the crowd below, hitting her head and knocking her unconscious. Her boyfriend caught her as she fell, and an off-duty firefighter treated the woman until police arrived. The drone retailed for around $1,200 and weighed about 2lbs, police said. The man handed himself into police after the incident.

Although it’s taken over 18 months to get to a final verdict, sentencing still needs to be carried out. That is scheduled for February 24th, and reckless endangerment carries a penalty of up to 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine.

This is the first time the Seattle City Attorney’s Office has charged anybody for mishandling a drone in a public space. Although I have a feeling it won’t be the last. The city have also said they may be pursuing Reckless endangerment for the recent Space Needle drone crash, too, although nobody was injured in that incident.

And people wonder why drones are getting such a hard time, why registration and training are so important. I fly them myself. I see it from both sides. I love having the freedoms I have to fly my quads and hexacopters, but we have to do it responsibly.

It’s nice to see that those being idiots with theirs are starting to get what they deserve, instead of blindly punishing an entire hobby. I just hope that sentencing isn’t just a slap on the wrist and serves as a warning to others to wake up and stop being irresponsible.

What do you think? Should people have the freedom to fly wherever they want? Should they be even more restricted? Should there be mandatory training? Let us know in the comments.

[via Seattle Times]

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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6 responses to “Man convicted for Seattle drone crash which knocked woman unconscious may face jail time”

  1. Dan Avatar
    Dan

    “This is the first time the Seattle City Attorney’s Office has convicted anybody…” I don’t believe the city attorney’s office can convict anyone; they can charge them and prosecute the case. It requires a judge and a jury to convict.

    1. Kaouthia Avatar
      Kaouthia

      My mistake, should’ve said charged. :)

  2. Rikki Avatar
    Rikki

    John Aldred you seem to imply that this person is an “idiot” who “got what he deserved”. Crashes and accidents can happen to even the best of us. Is there substantial fact to back up your statement? I don’t know the man or the situation to the full extent, just finding your statement a little harsh. If the news said he was a person flying his drone on assignment as a professional (certified, registered and all) would you have still continued with this tone?

  3. American Rambler Avatar
    American Rambler

    These things are not snowballs or pigeons. The performance of drones is improving substantially and prices are now at a point where they are quite affordable. Along with that they are larger, weigh more along with increasing endurance, payload capacities and ranges. Operating in public spaces, when things go wrong, people can get hurt and property get damaged. Make no mistake. People will operate these in hazardous areas and cause problems, either by accident, ignorance or with malicious intent. Law and rules will need to be incorporated to reduce and deal with the problems which will follow. One or more of these things impacting a fully loaded and fueled jumbo jet on takeoff or landing in a major metropolitan area can result in a very serious disaster for example.

  4. Ceri Williams Avatar
    Ceri Williams

    Birds and wildlife are struggling enough with global warming what is the matter with people why can’t they grow up? Why do you not respect privacy and let people have quiet. If this drone thing carries on I can imagine a hellish world where you are constantly watched like Big Brother. It is infantile to fly these things with no sense of responsibility of people or wildlife around you.

  5. orly Avatar
    orly

    I would like to know why he was convicted. Clearly the drone fell and injured a person. Was he using his drone illegally? Sounds more like a case of negligence as i doubt it was intentional. What if I’m riding a skateboard and bump into a person who is then injured? That would be a civil law suit for damages not criminal. Unless the skateboard was used as a weapon intentionally. I think this has more to do with the witch hunt against drone and drone culture. Lets consult the Amish on this one. You know they resent technology and advancement.