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FAA Investigating Drone Crash In Marblehead

BOSTON (CBS) - The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating a drone crash during a Memorial Day parade in Marblehead.

The aircraft crashed into a building and hit two people before it landed on the ground.

Scot Yount, who had a cut on his neck and head, was holding his one-year-old daughter moments before the incident.

"That guy has to think about where he flies that thing," Yount told WBZ on Monday. "If he'd hit my daughter, I'd be pretty upset."

Technology is making it easier than ever for hobbyists to fly their very own drones. And the rising popularity brings debates about privacy and public safety.

At Hobby Quarters Hobby Stop in Foxboro, Billy Kazakis sells the small aircraft to consumers. He also helps lead a Boston area Facebook group with the goal of teaching new pilots how to safely fly drones.

"It's an exciting time, as long as people are responsible," Kazakis said. "There are rules out there that people don't know about."

Drones for sale at Hobby Quarters Hobby Stop in Foxboro (WBZ-TV)

For amateur drone operators, there are some basic rules: don't go higher than 400 feet, stay five miles away from airports, and always keep the drone in your line of sight.

Kazakis said drones should not hover over people or fly over crowds. He added a lot of the safety guidelines come down to common sense.

"Plan on something going wrong and being in a safe area to land or crash," Kazakis said. "If you go with that mentality, then you will stay safe."

Police said the drone operator was apologetic and promised not to fly the aircraft in Marblehead again. No charges will be filed, the police chief told WBZ.

However, the FAA will take a closer look at the incident.

"The FAA has a number of enforcement tools available, including possible civil penalties for careless or reckless operations," a statement said.

Drone operator
Marblehead drone operator (L) and Scot Yount (R) (Image from viewer video)

But spokesman Jim Peters told WBZ those instances are rare. Since the technology is still so new, the federal agency has leaned toward educating drone operators through a partnership called, "Know Before You Fly."

Regulations for commercial use of drones are stricter and currently being finalized. For instance, business use requires the drone operator to be a licensed pilot.

Right now, the FAA authorizes unmanned aircraft use on a case-by-case basis as businesses apply for exemptions.

Ryan Kath can be reached at You can follow him on Twitter and connect with him on Facebook.

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