Pilot arrested on suspicion of flying under the influence after landing plane in parking lot

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A 58-year-old pilot was arrested early Tuesday on suspicion of operating an aircraft while under the influence after he landed in the parking lot of a fashion designer’s Whittier warehouse.

Darrell Roberts of Winchester, Calif., touched down his single-engine Piper at the Michael Kors distribution center in the 3700 block of Workman Mill Road at about 10:15 p.m. on Monday, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Alex Villanueva said.

Authorities are investigating whether the landing was forced due to an engine failure or if the plane ran out of gas.


Roberts, who had departed from Temecula, failed a sobriety test, Villanueva said. No passengers were aboard the plane.

Roberts was not injured but was taken to a hospital after he complained of abdominal pain. He was released about 6 a.m. on Tuesday and booked at the Pico Rivera sheriff’s station, Villanueva said.

He is expected to appear Wednesday at the Downey courthouse and could face a misdemeanor charge.

“Driving under the influence is dangerous enough; on an aircraft multiply that by a factor of 10 of what could go wrong,” Villanueva said.

“It’s just very lucky that he landed in a parking lot that is a little over 2,000 feet long.”

The plane’s left wing reportedly clipped a stop sign after the landing, said Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration. No damage was reported. Roberts’ intended destination was not known.


An FAA inspector is expected to be at the scene Tuesday to examine the plane.



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