Drone Operator Suspect Arrested
The Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office arrested a Prescott Valley man June 30 for operating a drone while firefighters worked to contain the Goodwin Fire.
Gene Alan Carpenter, 54, has been arrested for recklessly endangering 14 air tankers and helicopters and many firefighters on the ground. Those aircraft, including three very large DC-10s, were protecting the ground crews.
Operations chief Rocky Gilbert said they had to halt all firefighting efforts for an hour on a blaze that still threatened many homes.
“They’re a big problem because they’re so small we have to shut down all our aircraft because if they were to run into one of them, hit a rotor or a propeller on an airplane, it would put that airplane down,” Gilbert said.
Carpenter had been posting pictures he’d taken with the drone on his website. Deputies were able to track him down thanks to witness information and his own website photos. Carpenter was charged with endangerment and unlawful operation of an unmanned aircraft. He also may face possible federal charges.