A 58-year-old Winchester resident was arrested for flying under the influence after the pilot made an emergency landing in the parking lot of a Whittier warehouse and distribution center Monday, April 3.
The allegedly intoxicated pilot, who was later identified as Darrell Roberts, reportedly ran out of fuel after departing the French Valley Airport. Roberts’ intended destination was San Diego.
Roberts reportedly got lost, flying west towards Los Angeles County instead of south towards San Diego County.
“He was headed in the wrong direction and somehow ended up here in LA County,” Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Alex Villanueva said after the emergency landing.
There were no passengers aboard the plane when it landed and no injuries related to the unexpected landing were reported.
After getting lost and running out of fuel, Roberts touched down his 1973, single-engine, Piper Cherokee about 10:15 p.m. He landed between two large warehouses in a parking lot at the Michael Kors distribution center in the 3700 block of Workman Mill Road in Whittier.
The plane’s left wing reportedly clipped a stop sign after landing in the parking lot, which is just over 2,000 feet long, according to an FAA official.
After the forced, parking lot landing, the pilot failed a sobriety test, according to Villanueva.
Roberts was not injured during the “rough landing,” but he was taken to an area hospital with complaints of abdominal pain. He was released from the hospital this morning about 6 a.m.
When he was released from the hospital, officials immediately arrested Roberts for suspicion of operating an aircraft while under the influence. He was booked at the Pico Rivera sheriff’s station.
Toxicology reports, which were not immediately available, were expected to determine Roberts’ level of intoxication.
Roberts is facing a misdemeanor charge and his bail was set at $1,000. He is scheduled to appear at the Downey Superior Court April 5.
FAA officials are investigating the cause of the emergency landing and an FAA inspector was expected to arrive at the scene today.