2015-09-09 / Political Page

D.A. Brown Vents Over Drone Near Miss

Fortunately, there were no spectators sitting in a section of the National Tennis Center last week when an unmanned drone landed there while a tennis match was in play on the court below. It could have caused mayhem otherwise.

The possible consequences of it landing where fans were sitting weren’t lost upon Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, however. He lashed out at the drone’s owner, saying: “Recklessly flying a drone near, over or into a tennis stadium or airport or any other place where large groups of people assemble needlessly puts lives in danger.”

Brown added: “We were fortunate that no one was injured. Drones cannot simply be considered children’s toys. Those who engage in conduct of this nature will be held legally accountable for their actions. They will not be treated as children, or as innocent hobbyists.”

It turned out that the drone belonged to Daniel Verley, 26, a science teacher at the Academy of Innovative Technology in Brooklyn. He came forward when he heard reports of the drone’s landing at the Tennis Center.

Verley told the police that he lost control of the craft while flying it near the old 1964 Worlds Fair Unisphere in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. He was charged with reckless endangerment, reckless operation of a drone, and operating a drone outside the prescribed area. He had spent two hours searching for it before hearing where it had landed. By that time stadium officials had reported the drone landing to the FBI and the NYPD counterterrorism unit.

The incident occurred among reports made by airplane pilots indicating they had encountered near misses with drones while landing aircraft at Kennedy Airport.

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