Drone leads to assault at Hammonasset - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Drone leads to assault at Hammonasset

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An eyewitness recorded what appeared to be Andrea Mears attacking the teen. (LiveLeak.com photo) An eyewitness recorded what appeared to be Andrea Mears attacking the teen. (LiveLeak.com photo)

A woman from Westbrook is accused of assaulting a teen at Hammonasset State Park in Madison because he was flying a remote-controlled drone.

The incident was reported on May 12.

Police said Andrea Mears, 23, originally called the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection's Emergency Dispatch Center to complain that 17-year-old Austin Haughwout was flying a camera-equipped drone over the beach.

However, Haughwout called police a short time later to report that he'd been attacked by Mears. He also caught the whole incident on camera and uploaded it to the website YouTube.

"When she first came up I thought it was just someone calling the cops and I didn't think she would attack me," Haughwout said.

Police said that Mears called them back a short time later to say that she too was assaulted by the teen.

In a phone interview, Mears said the teen punched her in the head and grabbed her hair and claims he edited the video before posting it to YouTube.

In part of the video, Mears said, "Let go of me," and then Haughwout said, "If you weren't assaulting me I wouldn't be touching you," to which Mears replied, "You shouldn't be taking pictures of people on the beach."

Haughwout said he uses his video flying device to take photos and post them online, and his YouTube page includes aerial views of Hammonasset beach.

Zach Leon, who was an eyewitness, said he saw Mears pull Haughwout away from the drone and try to break his laptop, which was when Haughwout tried to stop her. Leon said he learned in an incident like this to call police first.

Mears was ultimately arrested and charged with third-degree assault and breach of peace.

She was arraigned on May 28 and is expected to appear in court on June 19.

According to the police report, Haughwout was not breaking any rules by flying his video camera over the state beach. He was not charged for hitting the woman because he was defending himself.

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