Pilot of Crashed Drone at U.S. Open Gets Community Service Sentence


Daniel Verley, whose unmanned aircraft system (UAS) recently crashed into an unoccupied area of the Louis Armstrong stadium during play at the U.S. Open in Queens, N.Y., has been ordered to perform five days of community service, according to Richard A. Brown, Queens district attorney.

Brown says that according to the criminal complaint, 26-year-old Daniel Verley of Jamaica, Queens, who teaches science at the Academy of Innovative Technology in Brooklyn and is a professional photographer, went to Flushing Meadow-Corona Park at 7:45 p.m. on Sept. 3 to take pictures of the Unisphere landmark with his new 3D Robotics drone.

When he took the aircraft for a second flight, the drone lost its signal, flew away and crashed into an unoccupied area of the Louis Armstrong stadium during a second-round U.S. Open match between Flavia Pennetta and Monica Niculescu.

Verley was charged with “reckless endangerment, reckless operation of a drone and operating a drone in a New York City park outside of a prescribed area,” according to the New York Post.

Brown says Verley has cooperated fully with police and has no prior criminal record. The attorney maintains that Brown never intended to fly into the stadium and did, in fact, accidentally lose control of the drone, which did not injure anyone.

On Oct. 2, Verley appeared before Queens Criminal Court Judge Michelle Armstrong and was ordered to perform five days of community service. If he satisfactorily completes the community service – tutoring disenfranchised students – and lives a law-abiding life, the charges will be dismissed in six months, says Brown.

The district attorney states, “I urge hobbyists and other members of the public to use common sense when choosing to employ these unmanned vehicles: Obtain the necessary permissions, and use only these vehicles in areas deemed safe – as the reckless use of unmanned model aircraft near locations where large groups of people assembly needlessly puts the lives and safety of people at risk.”

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