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No Drone Zone: Saturday Crash Leads To Criminal Charges

UK Police

The operator of a drone that crashed into glass on the south side of Commonwealth Stadium during last Saturday’s Wildcat season opener is facing charges that could land him behind bars.

University of Kentucky police chief Joe Monroe says 24-year-old UK law student Peyton Wilson probably had no nefarious intentions flying his camera-outfitted drone quadcopter over the stadium, but they’re taking the campus’ first case involving an unmanned aerial vehicle seriously – forwarding their findings to the FAA and charging the operator with second degree wanton endangerment.

"That was pretty much based on the danger that it posed when it crashed into the stadium with several people below the crash site," he tells reporters. "We actually interviewed some of the military parachutists that came in prior to the game who told us they had to take emergency evasive maneuvers to avoid the drone, which came within 15 to 20 feet of them."

Credit UK Police
Drone spotted hovering over Commonwealth Stadium during Saturday's Wildcats opener

The arrival of drones on the consumer market has left policymakers at the local, state, and federal level scrambling to catch up. Currently, UK officials, the Urban County Council, and state lawmakers are considering new rules to govern the devices.

For now, Monroe says operators should read up on the FAA guidelines and "know what you're doing before you do it." To remind gameday visitors, new "No Drone Zone" warning signs will be installed in the stadium parking lot.

Meanwhile, Wilson is set to appear in court. He could face fines and up to a year in jail.