Imagine wanting to dive into a refreshing pool, only to find it's turned neon green! That's what happened at the Quality Inn in Galloway Township and a few other places in New Jersey this summer. The culprit? A drone dropping green dye.
It all started in late June. Sandra Woolstion, the operator and general manager at the Quality Inn, was shocked to find their pool a bright, unnatural green. “I saw it totally green and I was like, ‘Oh wow what is going on?'” recalls Woolstion. She spotted a dye pack at the pool's bottom, which was odd. The pool needed multiple drainings and cleanings over the summer, costing the hotel big bucks and leaving many disappointed guests. “Some of them were crying,” Woolstion shared.
But the Quality Inn wasn't the only target. In August, an Absecon resident spotted a drone hovering above his pool. It dropped something and boom – his pool turned green too. “We had a resident…saw a drone over top and the drone actually dropped something in his pool,” said Absecon Police Chief James Laughlin.
The green menace turned out to be sea dye, often used by Search and Rescue teams. Not great for pools.
Fast forward to a Friday spotting of the drone over the Quality Inn again. This time, with the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) help, police traced the drone back to its operator. They arrested business owner Patrick Spina IV, 45, and charged him with multiple counts of criminal mischief. Spina's lawyer said he's working with the authorities, though he had no other comments.
The FAA is also digging into the case, reminding folks that unsafe drone operations can result in hefty fines and revoked certifications.
Laughlin hopes this unusual case prompts a closer look at drone laws. If you think you've been “greened,” contact your local police.
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