Ranger Tases Man Operating Drone at Hawaii National Park
With drones steadily making their way into the mainstream and the emergence of activities like drone selfies, regulation has become a challenging proposition.
That was evidenced when a park ranger tased a man who was illegally operating a drone at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island on Sunday night, according to the Associated Press.
A rising lava lake at Kilauea volcano's summit has drawn crowds visitors of late, many looking to take photos and film the scene. But while drones are capable of capturing spectacular shots from an assortment of different angles, they are banned by the National Park Service because of noise and safety concerns.
The man who was tased over the weekend, identified as 35-year-old Travis Sanders, eventually landed the drone after multiple demands made by the ranger, but was hit with a stun gun after attempting to flee the scene in an area not far from a 500-foot drop.
Park spokeswoman Jessica Ferracane told the AP that "the ranger identified himself and approached the individual, who refused to identify himself. He was described as being very unpredictable, belligerent," she added.
"The ranger felt he needed to be stopped for the safety of himself and others."
However Sanders defended his actions to Hawaii News Now.
"A guy approached me in the dark and said, 'Bring it down!' and he was very angry. I had no idea he was a ranger. He sounded very angry, confrontational," said Sanders of the ranger, "like he wanted to fight — and I didn't really want to stick around for it so I just told him, 'I don't have ID and I'm leaving.'"
After being tased, handcuffed, and examined by paramedics, Sanders was transported to a Hawaii County police cellblock and released on Monday on $500 bond.
It remains to be seen what punishment Sanders will face, but the maximum penalty for flying a drone in national park airspace is six months in jail accompanied by a hefty $5,000 fine.
Sanders' court date is scheduled for July 22.
More by Patrick Clarke
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