Seattle woman says drone wasn't spying on her after all

Seattle drone was capturing panoramic views, not being a Peeping Tom

A Seattle woman has backed off her claim that a drone aircraft's cameras recorded her in a state of partial undress after the pilot came forward and assured her that the unmanned vehicle's cameras were pointed elsewhere.

Around 7:45 a.m. Sunday, 39=year-old Lisa Pleiss noticed a drone was hovering outside her 26th-floor apartment around, and after some initial confusion, began to panic.


June 26: An earlier version of this post incorrectly reported Pleiss spoke directly to police. Her building manager actually called law enforcement. The earlier version also incorrectly stated the drone operator offered to show Pleiss all of the photos taken on the date of the incident.

"Initially my response was 'that’s kind of cool,' and then I very quickly registered there were cameras on it, and then I very quickly realized I was not fit to be on a camera at that point, and that’s when the panic set in," Pleiss told the Los Angeles Times.

Pleiss called her building concierge, who called police. She also told The Times that the drone moved away as she took a picture of it, and two men were seen packing up video equipment and driving away shortly after the incident.

Joseph Vaughn, the drone's pilot and owner of Portland, Ore.-based Skyris Imaging, told The Times that the drone was performing a "view study" for a city building contractor, photographing panoramic views of the neighborhood. 

“I called the Seattle police within five minutes of hearing of the incident; I let them know my name, my phone number," Vaughn said. "They said thank you for the call and they kind of laughed it off."

Vaughn said police called the firm that had hired him to confirm his story. Det. Drew Fowler, a Seattle police spokesman, said charges were not likely.

Vaughn said the story probably went viral because early media reports described him as fleeing the scene. He said he decided to take the pictures early in the morning to avoid disturbing anyone, and shot at an angle where the sunlight would probably obscure any views into the building.

“Had she come downstairs we wouldn’t be having this conversation today, because I would have let her see the photographs until she was comfortable," Vaughn said.

Pleiss said she was relieved after speaking with Vaughn by phone. He offered to share one of the pictures he took with her and assured her no inappropriate images were taken.

“I feel much more relieved after talking to him that there won’t be any pictures of me on the Internet," she said, laughing.

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