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State Police Seize Drone That Kept Medical Helicopter From Flying

FLINT TWP. –  We’ve all seen them in the sky.
But a recent incident involving a drone in Mid-Michigan is raising concerns over safety.

The State Police confiscated one that interfered with a medical helicopter on the scene of an accident.

“There are laws concerning these things that apparently people are ignoring, said Rider’s Hobby Shop drone expert, Doug Austin.

Doug Austin knows the law when it comes to flying drones. He’s been flying them for more than a decade.

“I’ve been flying since 2005. Drones have really, in the last three or four years and because they came in so fast, they became so popular so quickly, they outpaced any rules and regulations and because of that happening people were doing stupid things.”

Like flying a drone over the scene of accidents.

But police say a couple did just that last week at a deadly motorcycle crash on I-75 in Bay County.

It caused a delay in the take off of the medical helicopter that was transporting one of the accident victims.

“Flying these things over unsafe conditions, like a helicopter trying to take off from an accident scene, that’s against the law,” said Austin.

Austin says drone operators are getting out of hand.

“The reason I say that is because there is so many of them out there and you are supposed to have these registered with the FAA and they are supposed to have the stickers displayed in an area where they can see it without having to take the machine apart. They are not doing that, it costs five bucks. But there is a hefty fine if you get caught without having that on there,” said Austin.

The FAA also prohibits the use of drones within five miles of airports.

They must also remain under 400 feet, only fly in the daytime, not fly over humans and operators are required to keep the drone in the line of sight at all times.

Austin says unfortunately, not all operators are following the rules.

It’s why he believes police need to crackdown harder on those who don’t.

“And there are safe areas in which you can fly these things and there’s going to be no problem. But you don’t do it over a forest fire, you don’t do it over an accident scene to try to get that perfect video image and that’s what people are doing,” said Austin.

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