FAA investigating helicopter incident at Penn State tailgate

October 6, 2018

State police helicopter flies over tailgates at Penn State.

Pennsylvania State Police used a helicopter to break up a rowdy crowd at a Penn State football tailgate Saturday.

Now, the Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the incident, according to the Associated Press.

The helicopter, which is part of the Pennsylvania State Police Aviation Section, attempted to disperse the crowd using a loudspeaker after tailgaters did not respond to orders from troopers on the ground, according to a statement posted to the State Police Facebook page Thursday.

The Centre Daily Times reports that the helicopter flew low enough over Yellow Lot 23, outside of Beaver Stadium, to send tents, cornhole game boards, grills and food flying. Videos of the incident posted to social shows airborne debris and ducking tailgaters as the helicopter buzzed the crowd.

Pennsylvania State Police is also conducting an internal investigation, according to the statement.

“There was no intent by the pilot or supervisors on the ground to disturb property, and the department regrets any damage caused as a result,” the State Police statement said.

The PSP Aviation Section, which is comprised of nine helicopters and five fixed-wing aircraft, flew 1,841 missions in 2017, according to the statement.

Joseph Michael Oleynik. 21, of Derwood, Maryland, was charged with a felony of taunting a police animal, misdemeanor counts of resisting arrests, failing to disperse and disorderly conduct, along with a summary offense of public drunkenness, in connection with the incident, the Associated Press reports. A trooper sustained a broken hand while trying to subdue Oleynik.

Penn State will discontinue the use of a helicopter to make crowd announcements at football games while the situation is being investigated, according to a statement from the Penn State University Police and Public Safety.

University Police announced in August that there will be increased police visibility during football games at Beaver Stadium this season. Police officers wearing tactical gear are now stationed at stadium entry gates and conduct patrols in and around the stadium.

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