US Open Drone Operator Gets Community Service

US Open Drone Operator Gets Community Service

PHOTO:  The owner/operator of the drone that crashed into seats at Louis Armstrong Stadium during a US Open tennis match has been sentenced to community service. File Photo

A Jamaica man, whose drone malfunctioned and crashed into an unoccupied area of the Louis Armstrong Stadium last month during play at the U.S. Open, has been ordered to perform community service, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.Daniel Verley, 26, who teaches science at the Academy of Innovative Technology in Brooklyn, appeared in court last Friday and was ordered to perform five days of community service.  If Verley satisfactorily completes his community service, which will be performed under the supervision of the District Attorney’s Alternative Sentencing Program, and lives a law-abiding life, Brown said, the charges against him will be dismissed in six months.

According to the criminal complaint, Verley, who is also a professional photographer, went to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park at approximately 7:45 p.m. on Sept. 3, to take pictures of the Unisphere using his new 3DR Robotic drone. When he took the drone up for its second flight, it lost its signal and flew away from the Unisphere. The drone ultimately crashed into an unoccupied area of the Louis Armstrong Stadium during a second round U.S. Open match between Flavia Pennetta and Monica Niculescu.

Brown said that his office’s investigation “revealed that Mr. Verley – who has cooperated fully with the police regarding the incident and has no prior criminal record – never intended to allow his drone to fly into the stadium and that he, in fact, lost control of the drone. Fortunately, no one was injured as a result of this incident. However, we cannot rely on happenstance to protect the public. 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 only use these vehicles in areas deemed safe as the reckless use of unmanned model aircraft near locations where large groups of people assemble needlessly puts the lives and safety of people at risk.”


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