The crash was captured in a video by the drone’s recording device, but didn’t damage the Space Needle.
A 20-year-old Pasco man has been charged with reckless endangerment for allegedly crashing a drone into the Space Needle’s roof while pyrotechnicians were prepping for the annual fireworks display on New Year’s Eve, the Seattle City Attorney’s Office said Wednesday.
Cole Kelley was piloting the drone when it hit the Space Needle, the city attorney’s office said in a news release. Reckless endangerment is a gross misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 364 days in jail and up to a $5,000 fine.
The crash was captured in a video by the drone’s recording device, but didn’t damage the Needle, Space Needle spokesman Dave Mandapat said at the time.
About a half-dozen pyrotechnicians were on the roof when the crash occurred around 2 p.m.
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The drone footage shows a panoramic view of Seattle and the city’s waterfront while the drone hovers around the Space Needle, before gaining speed and crashing into the roof.
The drone was turned over to Seattle police, who alerted the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Police allege that Kelly violated FAA rules since he flew the drone above 400 feet.
“One of the drone’s spinning blades was dangerously near wiring from one of the [pyrotechnics] boxes, one motor was well wrapped up in the strap, one blade had shattered, and the drone itself was kicking around threatening the wiring of the pyrotechnic devices,” the news release says.
The release did not say whether any of the pyrotechnicians were injured during the incident, but says that “simply being struck from this size of drone” could harm someone. According to information provided by the drone’s manufacturer to the police, the drone weighs almost 7 pounds and can fly almost 50 mph.
The drone strike is one of several drone-related incidents in the city in the past few years.
In June 2014, a woman told police she saw a drone hovering outside her downtown high-rise while she was topless. The drone owner was a Portland-based aerial photographer.
The following month, Space Needle security called police after guests reported seeing a small drone possibly crash into an observation-deck window. There was no damage to the Needle.
At the city’s annual 2015 Pride Parade in June, a drone weighing about 2 pounds crashed into a downtown building and then struck a 25-year-old woman in the head.
The aircraft’s operator in that incident was charged with reckless endangerment.
In November that year, less than two miles away, a flying drone hit the giant Ferris wheel near downtown Seattle’s waterfront. No injuries or damages were reported.