If you are the pilot of a wayward drone that crashed into a Capitol Hill house and shattered a window Thursday morning, we have good news and bad news. Police found your drone. But they’d like to talk with you.
Here is SPD’s description of the crash in the 900 block of 13th Ave E near Aloha:
The couple reportedly heard the sound of breaking glass in their living room around 7:30 AM and went outside, where they found a white drone lying on the ground outside their dining room window. The couple noticed the drone had a camera affixed to it, which was still recording. While no one was injured in the incident, the drone smashed the couple’s dining room window and caused damage to the window’s frame.
Police are working to identify the pilot:
Officers documented the damage, booked the drone into evidence, and are working to get a warrant to review footage recorded by the drone’s camera and identify its pilot.
Last year, SPD detectives used recovered footage to identify the pilot of a drone after it crashed into the Seattle Great Wheel. The case has been forwarded to the Federal Aviation Administration for further review. The City Attorney’s office also charged a 37-year-old Oak Harbor man with reckless endangerment after a drone he was flying crashed into a woman at the Seattle Pride parade in June 2015.
The laws and regulations around the use of quadcopters and drones are continuing to take shape. Late last year, a FAA Small Unmanned Aircraft Registration system began that requires even recreational drones to be registered. It’s not clear whether the drone involved in Thursday’s crash displayed the required registration information.
The homeowner sent CHS this photo of some of the damage
The area of the crash, meanwhile, is outside of the FAA-mandated five-mile no-fly zone around airports. There are not currently any City of Seattle laws the prohibit the devices from being used but Seattle Parks regulations, for example, prohibit their use on parks lands. Thursday’s crash happened just blocks south of Volunteer Park. The Lowell Elementary School campus is also a possible takeoff point. It doesn’t look like Seattle Public Schools yet have banned the copters. As in the case of reckless endangerment cited by SPD above, existing legal framework comes into play in the event of crashes where there is damage or injuries.
Fortunately in this case, nobody was injured Thursday morning — though it sounds like the drone’s flying days might be over.
UPDATE: The homeowner sent us a picture of some of the damage from the drone. He also tells CHS the drone was a DJI Phantom series quadcopter similar to the one pictured above. It’s one of the most common quadcopters on the market and widely available.