Drone pilot accused of interfering with cliffside rescue

A man was arrested late Friday night after his drone allegedly interfered with the rescue of a person who had fallen of a cliff in Pacifica, according to police.

Around 10:15 p.m., emergency crews arrived to 320 Esplanade Ave. on reports of a person that had fallen over a cliff.

Once on scene, crews contacted the California Highway Patrol requesting a helicopter to conduct a long-line rescue, according to police.

Shortly after the helicopter’s arrival, emergency crews noticed a drone hovering near the scene. Police said the drone came close to the helicopter on several occasions.

According to police, the helicopter crew immediately suspended the rescue operation and gained altitude to avoid a collision with the drone.

Pacifica police were able to locate the drone’s operator, 55-year-old Gerald Destremps, and arrested him on suspicion of impending first-responders at the scene of an emergency.

After the drone was removed from the scene, the helicopter was able to return and illuminate the area for a ground rescue by North County Fire Authority firefighters.

Police said the person who fell over the cliff had illegally entered an apartment building on Esplanade Avenue and accidentally fell off of a balcony.

The apartments, which were set to be demolished Monday, had been deemed uninhabitable by city officials because of the risk of their collapse into the ocean from erosion.

Police said the person was taken to a hospital with moderate injuries.

The Federal Aviation Administration prohibits any person from operating an aircraft in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another.

According to police, the FAA has expressed serious concern over the use of unauthorized drones interfering with rescue operations.

In July 2015, an unauthorized drone impeded firefighting efforts at the baseball fields off of Cindy Way in Sharp Park, police said.

For more information regarding definitions and regulations of drones, people can go to http://www.faa.gov/.