Pilot arrested on suspicion of DUI after small plane makes hard landing in Whittier

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The pilot of a small plane was arrested on suspicion of DUI after the aircraft made a hard landing in the parking lot of a commercial facility in Whittier, authorities said. (KABC)

The pilot of a small plane was arrested on suspicion of DUI after the aircraft made a hard landing Monday evening in the parking lot of a commercial facility in Whittier, authorities said.

The pilot, identified as 58-year-old Darrell Roberts from Riverside County, was supposed to be traveling from Temecula to San Diego but somehow got far off course to the north.

He ended up landing the plane in the parking lot of a distribution center for the sportswear fashion company Michael Kors, located in the 3700 block of Workman Mill Road across from Rio Hondo College around 10 p.m.

Roberts was the only person aboard the fixed-wing Piper aircraft, which experienced engine failure, said a spokesperson for the L.A. County Sheriff's Department's Pico Rivera station.

Although he initially refused to be transported, Roberts was eventually taken to a hospital as a precaution, investigators said. He was uninjured.

Early Tuesday morning, the sheriff's department confirmed that Roberts was arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor DUI - or in this case, flying under the influence after drinking.

"Like a drunk driving DUI with a vehicle, it is a misdemeanor crime," explained LASD Lt. Alex Villanueva.

As of around midday Tuesday, Robert's plane was still parked outside the distribution center. The landing gear appeared to be intact. The only visible damage on the aircraft following the hard landing appeared to be a dent on the left wing.

Villanueva said the incident should serve as a lesson to all pilots who drink and fly.

"It shows that the responsibility falls on the pilots to make sure they're capable of operating the aircraft, the aircraft is well maintained and can go from point A to point B safely," Villanueva said.

Surveillance cameras in the area may have caught the hard landing, but security officials said that if such footage exists, it would not be released.

Related Topics:
newsplane crashDUIdui crashlos angeles county fire departmentlos angeles county sheriff's departmentairplaneWhittierLos Angeles County
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