There was more than just tennis balls flying around Arthur Ashe Stadium Thursday night and a New York City teacher was arrested after his unmanned drone buzzed the court and crashed into the stands.
Play was interrupted after the small four-propeller flying device dropped into the court during the closing stages of a match between Flavia Pennetta from Italy and Monica Niculescu from Romania at around 8:30 pm.
The tiny drone hit a row of unoccupied seats before breaking into pieces while the two players played out the point.
Drone lands inside Louis Armstrong Stadium during US Open match. No one was injured when it hit the stands. #J2150S https://t.co/AdN0SKXd3e— Hannah Dustman (@DustmanHndpq4) September 4, 2015
Daniel Varley, a teacher at the Academy of Innovative Technology in Brooklyn, was charged with reckless endangerment, reckless operation of a drone and operating a drone outside the prescribed area for doing so.
“A little bit scary, I have to say,” said Pennetta, who went on to win the match 6-1, 6-4. “With everything going on in the world ... I thought, ‘OK, it’s over.’ That’s how things happen.”
Security guards rushed to the device, which had partially shattered on impact. The game paused as authorities investigated.
Luckily, the stadium, which has a seating capacity of 10,000 and was packed with fans earlier in the day, was sparsely filled during the late-night game.
A USTA source said authorities traced the drone to a marina on the opposite side of nearby Citi Field and the arrest was made early Friday.
It was not the first encounter of the drone kind for Pennetta, who became Italy’s first top-10 singles player in 2009.
Last year, a Yonkers man was arrested for piloting a drone just outside of the U.S. Open Grounds as Pennetta slugged it out with Serena Williams for a spot in the semi-finals.