Tuesday 27 September 2016

Teacher arrested after drone crashes into US Open tennis stadium

Published 04/09/2015 | 04:49

Police investigate after a drone, seen to the right of the officer in the white shirt, crashed into the Louis Armstrong Stadium during a tennis match (AP)
Police investigate after a drone, seen to the right of the officer in the white shirt, crashed into the Louis Armstrong Stadium during a tennis match (AP)
Flavia Pennetta defeated Monica Niculescu in a US Open match interrupted by a drone (AP)

A teacher has been arrested for allegedly crashing a drone into an empty section of seats at the US Open tennis tournament.

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Police said 26-year-old Daniel Verley faces charges of reckless endangerment and operating a drone in a New York City public park outside a prescribed area.

The drone buzzed over the court in Louis Armstrong Stadium on Thursday night before crashing into the seats. It broke into pieces upon landing, and the match was briefly interrupted while police and fire department personnel went to look at it.

A US Tennis Association spokesman said no one was injured.

The black device flew diagonally through the arena during the next-to-last game of a second-round match as 26th seed Flavia Pennetta of Italy beat Monica Niculescu of Romania.

Pennetta said she heard the drone fly by and was not sure what it was, but h er initial reaction was that it might have been a bomb.

"A little bit scary, I have to say," Pennetta said. "With everything going on in the world ... I thought, okay, it's over. That's how things happen."

A police department spokesman said Verley was a teacher at the Academy of Innovative Technology in Brooklyn.

Pennetta said: "The chair umpire just wanted to wait for an okay from the police to be able to continue even if, truthfully, I don't think even they knew what it was."

She said her coach and physical therapist were sitting in the opposite end of the stadium from where the drone crashed and told her later they were afraid too.

"All of these (security measures), and then it comes in from above," Pennetta said.

The episode happened during the day's last match at Louis Armstrong Stadium, which has a seating capacity of about 10,000. Pennetta and Niculescu were originally scheduled to play on the much smaller Court 17, but their match was moved because four earlier matches had wrapped up early.

"If there had been spectators, it would have hit them and done a lot of damage," Pennetta said.

Press Association

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