Drone seized after crashing into crowd at Celebration of Light
Published Thursday, July 28, 2016 3:14PM PDT
Last Updated Thursday, July 28, 2016 6:48PM PDT
Police are asking people to leave their drones at home during the Celebration of Light fireworks festival after one of the hobby aircraft crashed down into the crowd Wednesday night.
There were at least a half dozen drones buzzing around the skies at the height of Team Australia’s fireworks show, which police warned is a risky situation with an estimated crowd of 300,000 spectators gathered below to watch.
“One of those drones losing control in the air, losing battery power and falling to the ground in a crowd is somewhat dangerous,” Const. Randy Fincham said.
And that’s just what happened shortly after the fireworks ended. Police watched as one drone crash landed near the Starbucks at the corner of Davie and Denman streets.
Fortunately, no one was struck. Fincham said officers seized that drone and ended up finding another drone operator who had lost his aircraft, meaning a different drone potentially crashed to the ground somewhere else.
For the sake of everyone’s safety, police urged people to leave their drones behind this Saturday for Disney’s fireworks show.
“We would prefer that people don’t bring their drones down,” Fincham said, adding that police "can appreciate they take great photos.”
According to Transport Canada guidelines, drones shouldn’t be flown within 150 metres of people, animals, buildings or vehicles, and certainly not over large gatherings.
Breaking those guidelines isn’t a fineable offense for hobby drone users, but Transport Canada said it’s looking into whether the airspace over the crowd was restricted at the time of the fireworks.
If it was, drone operators could be subject to fines of up to $25,000 and even jail time.
“We are working with the Vancouver Police Department and are following up to determine if an investigation is warranted,” a Transport Canada spokesperson said in a statement.
Anyone who witnesses a drone being used in a reckless or negligent way that could hurt people or damage property is asked to contact police or Transport Canada.