UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. (WHTM) – A Pennsylvania State Police helicopter flew so low over tailgaters at Penn State’s football game on Saturday that it sent tables and tents flying.
Video of the low chopper was posted on the Nittany Lion Wearhouse and Ticket Exchange Facebook page.
People wrote on social media that they lost hundreds of dollars worth of food when the helicopter flew over the Beaver Stadium parking lot before the White Out game against Ohio State.
“My one friend, his car got scratched and a lot of people’s tents were destroyed,” Paul Fortino said. “I lost hundreds of dollars of food, and I know one kid actually got hit in the head with a tent.”
State police said troopers had been called to assist in the response to a “large-scale party that was getting out of hand” and creating a risk to people and property.
Cpl. Adam Reed, a state police spokesman, said in a statement that the tailgaters ignored police commands to leave. He said when two state police horses were assaulted and a trooper was injured, the ground units pulled back in an effort to de-escalate the situation.
Reed said the helicopter was then used to issue commands through a loudspeaker.
He said when police noticed the helicopter was low enough to disturb items on the ground, the helicopter pulled up to a higher altitude.
“They were playing loud music and they were having fun, but they weren’t being disrespectful,” Josh Fulmer said. “They weren’t causing any issues that I could see.”
University police issued a separate statement, saying there was an incident that involved numerous law violations including serious threats to officer safety within a disorderly crowd.
They said the unruly people ignored police orders to leave, and at least one officer suffered injuries.
“It is rare to resort to these expanded interventions; however, when all other warnings from the mounted police unit and officers on the ground were ignored, a Pennsylvania State Police helicopter was deployed as another tool to compel the group to disperse and curb dangerous and unruly behavior,” the statement reads.
“Following the use of the helicopter, the dangerous behaviors dissipated.”
“Somebody needs to be held accountable,” Fortino said. ‘Whether it’s the pilot, who’s just a rogue pilot, or someone on the ground who gave him the orders to fly 30 feet above a crowd of people.”
The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the incident. According to the agency’s website, helicopters must fly between 500 to 1000 feet above the ground, depending on where they are.