California deputies responding to the emergency landing of a small plane in a warehouse parking lot arrested the pilot on suspicion of being drunk, authorities said Tuesday.
The Piper Cherokee's left wing clipped a stop sign, but the single-engine plane remained upright after it landed in the empty lot late Monday, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff's Lt. Alex Villanueva.
As deputies talked to the pilot, they suspected he might be intoxicated and took him into custody, Villanueva said.
Darrell Roberts, the only person on board, was arrested on suspicion of operating an aircraft under the influence around 12:41 a.m. Tuesday, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department's Pico Rivera Station. He remained in custody, held on $1,000 bail as of Tuesday morning.
Roberts, 58, got lost and was running out of fuel during a planned flight from Temecula, in Riverside County, to San Diego, about 60 miles (96.56 kilometers) south.
"He was headed in the wrong direction and somehow ended up here in LA County," said Villanueva.
The plane landed in the parking lot of the Michael Kors Distribution Center in Whittier, a Los Angeles suburb about 70 miles (112.65 kilometers) north of where it took off, said Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.
Get Los Angeles's latest local news on crime, entertainment, weather, schools, COVID, cost of living and more. Here's your go-to source for today's LA news.
"A DUI involving an airplane, that doesn't happen very often," Villanueva said.
The 1973 Piper PA-28-140 is registered to a Darrell S. Roberts of Winchester, in Riverside County. A phone number for Roberts could not be found.
The Federal Aviation Administration was investigating, Gregor said.
The fixed-wing plane sustained minor wing damage and remained in the parking lot early Tuesday. It was expected to be retrieved by a crew hired by an insurance company, Villanueva said.