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Drone photographer charged with felony for allegedly interfering with medivac

April 16, 2014

Photo of Kele Stanley's hexcopter drone, taken by the Clark County's Sheriff's Office.

Photo of Kele Stanley’s hexcopter drone, taken by the Clark County’s Sheriff’s Office.

Kele Stanley, a Springfield, Ohio-based videographer, has been charged with a felony after operating a drone near an accident.

Over the weekend, emergency responders in Clark County, Ohio arrived at a severe car accident and called in a helicopter to medivac an injured victim. Stanley also arrived at the scene, and deployed a remote-controlled hexcopter to film the scene.

According to police records, Stanley was asked three times by a township fire chief and a police officer to land his aircraft, so that a helicopter could land and transport a victim. In news reports, Stanley has denied that he was told a helicopter was en route.

On Monday, Stanley was charged with obstructing official business, which is a felony. Additionally, he is charged with misconduct at an emergency and disorderly conduct, which are misdemeanors.

“I don’t want to lose my equipment and I definitely don’t want to jeopardize someone else’s life or care,” he told the Dayton Business Journal.

In an interview with The Columbus Dispatch, aviation lawyer Peter Sachs saw the case as a first amendment issue. Sachs writes on the Drone Law Journal.

“If he did do something wrong, it should come out [in court],” Sachs told the Dispatch. “And if he didn’t, that story needs to be told, too. Drones have an unfair, bad connotation surrounding them.”

Stanley said he has been flying drones since 2010, and describes himself as a seasoned hobbyist. He said he will seek an aviation lawyer for legal assistance.

On Vimeo, Stanley has posted video under the username “Get Strange Entertainment.” Below is an example of his aerial videography using a drone.

Matthew Schroyer
guest author
Matthew Schroyer is a drone and data journalist based in Urbana, Illinois.

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