A 20-year-old Pasco man is facing a charge of reckless endangerment for crashing his drone on the roof of the Space Needle on New Year’s Eve.
Cole Kelley is accused of flying a drone weighing almost 7 pounds at an altitude higher than the 400 feet allowed by Federal Aviation Administration rules, according to a Seattle Police Department report.
The Space Needle, built for the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle, is 605 feet.
The drone footage posted by Space Needle officials shows the device taking off a few blocks away and flying far above the famous landmark. As it descends, it moves closer and hovers at the level of the observation deck and restaurant. The drone then zooms into the top of the structure crashing near some workers.
It became entangled in a safety strap that technicians working on the roof had installed to hold fireworks. It was threatening the wiring of the fireworks display until a worker wearing thick gloves could turn it off, according to police reports.
The drone posed a potential hazard to workers on the roof and could have knocked equipment over the side of the roof onto people below, according to police reports.
Seattle police asked Pasco police to interview Kelley, but Pasco police reported back that Kelley had hired an attorney and declined to be interviewed.
The charge of reckless endangerment is a gross misdemeanor that carries a potential sentence of up to 364 days in jail and up to a $5,000 fine. Kelley is scheduled to appear in Seattle Municipal Court on Nov. 22.
This is the second time the Seattle attorney’s office has charged reckless endangerment for mishandling a drone. In January a jury convicted an Oak Harbor, Wash., man for his illegal operation of a drone at the Gay Pride Parade in 2015, in which a woman suffered a concussion.
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter