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Police: Man sent up drone to view fatal crash scene

Connecticut police say the FAA is investigating a drone equipped with a camera that appeared over the scene of a car crash. Was it being used for commercial or even journalistic purposes?

Nothing more than a small helicopter?
Fox Connecticut screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

There's no clear indication of who might have been responsible.

However, police in Hartford, Conn., insist that someone sent a drone up to hover over a crash scene in which a person died last Saturday.

Police at the scene say they saw the drone flying overhead and believe it had a camera attached.

As Fox Connecticut reports, officers say they questioned the man who was operating the drone, but didn't arrest him.

However, the Federal Aviation Administration has now begun an investigation into whether this drone was legal.

This may be another area in which the law hasn't caught up with technology.

If someone passing by could have taken pictures with a cell phone, then, some would say, a camera drone is doing nothing different.

It is, though, a macabre notion that overhead shots might somehow be more graphic or dramatic.

The police report, obtained by Fox, insists that the body in the car could not have been seen by the drone. However, in other accidents, this may not be the case.

Still, how different is a drone from the helicopters that followed, say, the OJ Simpson car chase?

Current FAA regulations say that drones cannot be used for commercial purposes. Indeed, in Knoxville, Tenn., an engineering firm has attracted the attention of some because it allegedly used a drone to inspect local warehouses.

As the Knoxville News-Sentinel reports, the company in question, Donan Engineering, said that it operated the drones according to the guidelines of the Academy of Model Aeronautics National Model Aircraft Safety Code -- which is an interesting idea.

The FAA regulations against commercial use cover the usage of drones for journalistic purposes.

If it turns out that the alleged Connecticut drone was being operated on behalf of a news organization, it might offer a picture of the future.

That would be a future in which some TV stations might send up drones to get as detailed and graphic a depiction of an event -- however dangerous -- as it can.

That isn't necessarily a future everyone looks forward to.