“Take me out to the ballgame. Take me out to the crowd. Buy me some peanuts and Cra — — oh crap watch out for that drone!”
Such was the scene on Sunday, when a GoPro Karma inexplicably flew into Petco Park in the top of the seventh inning of a game between the San Diego and the Arizona Diamondbacks. By the grace of God, the drone managed to collide with an empty seat in the stadium’s upper decks, where frightened fans struggled for the next logical step in the unusual scene. Padres security and the San Diego Police Department, both confused, later gathered up the gadget and found the operator outside of the park.
“This was a guy working on his own blog going around San Diego videotaping or recording images,” Officer Billy Hernandez told the San Diego Union Tribune. “He was flying it over Petco Park and lost control of it.”
The drone pilot was not charged with a crime. According to the paper, authorities weren’t even sure what the charges might be since they were unfamiliar with the Federal Aviation Commission’s newish rules on drone flight. Reckless endangerment seems like an obvious choice given common sense and the precedent of other drone crashes into stadiums during major sporting events. After all, this was the charge levied against a local science teacher who crashed his aircraft into the US Open Tennis tournament a couple years ago.
Inevitably, none of this looks great for GoPro. The company faced widespread ridicule after it was forced to recall its new Karma drone. Why? Because pilots were losing control of their Karma drones, and the aircraft were falling from the sky. It’s unclear what GoPro has to say about this latest incident. We’ve reached out to the company and will update if we hear back.
Update 3:35pm EST – Fox5, the local Fox affiliate in San Diego, has a few more details about the incident. San Diego police Lt. Scott Wahl told the station that the operator was a man in his 20s.
“When they told him to bring the drone back he said he didn’t have any control over it and that it was flying on its own. Some point after that, the drone had crashed,” said Wahl. “He felt horrible. He did not intend on hurting anybody.”
Fox5 reports that “the FAA is investigating and could fine the operator up to $US1,437 ($1,922).” Again, it’s a miracle nobody was hurt.
Update – GoPro got back to us and said they weren’t aware of any technical issues with the drone. However, there wouldn’t be a way for them to determine that for sure without accessing the device.