Jail Time For Drone Pilot


The pilot of a drone that hit a building, then fell into a crowd watching a parade and hit a 25-year-old woman, knocking her unconscious, has been sentenced to 30 days in jail by a Seattle municipal court. Paul Skinner, 38, of Washington, who owns an aerial photography company, was convicted of reckless endangerment, which carries a penalty of up to a year in jail. Seattle Municipal Court Willie Gregory told Skinner last week that he knew the crash was an accident, but he had “engaged in conduct that put people in danger of being injured, which is what happened.” Skinner also was fined $500. Skinner’s lawyer, Jeffrey Kradel, said the punishment was “too severe,” and his client will appeal.

Kradel said his client was singled out for harsh treatment to scare other drone users, and that was an improper use of prosecutorial authority. The drone measured about 18 inches square and weighed about two pounds, according to police reports. The woman who was hit suffered a concussion. Her boyfriend caught her before she hit the ground, and suffered a minor bruise in the incident. A hearing has been set for May 25 to determine the restitution Skinner owes the woman for her medical treatment. Skinner remains free pending an appeal of the jail sentence.