Newport Pilot Dean Battersby gets a year in jail, $7,000 fine for buzzing beach walkers and a charter boat
Newport area pilot Dean Battersby was sentenced to a year in jail Wednesday for buzzing beach walkers in Waldport and a charter boat full of people in the jaws off Newport.
Circuit Court Judge Paulette Sanders said what Battersby did on that January day last year was dangerous and that had anything gone wrong, he could have hurt or killed people. And although Battersby said he never meant to hurt anyone, Judge Sanders said “You may not intend to hurt anyone when you run a stop sign, but you’re putting other people at risk when you do it.”
Judge Sanders sentenced Battersby to a year in the county jail and ordered him to pay a fine of nearly $7,000 which included attorney fees. Judge Sanders also placed Battersby on five years probation that takes effect upon his release from the county jail. Under terms of that probation he’s not to break any law, not drive any vehicle without a license or insurance, that he receive some sort of mental health evaluation, possess no firearm, nor contact with anyone involved in either incident and no flying of any aircraft, of any kind, including drones. Judge Sanders also prohibited Battersby from setting foot on any municipal airport or any commercial airport except for Eugene and Portland, and only then as a passenger.
Battersby told Judge Sanders that what he did was stupid. He said it several times. Testifying on Battersby’s behalf, former Newport Airport Manager Dennis Reno told Judge Sanders that Battersby is a highly experienced pilot for both airplanes and helicopters. Reno said that socializing with other pilots at the weekly Saturday Barbecue at the Newport Airport is important to him. In an apparent attempt to minimize the motivation for buzzing beach go’ers and those aboard the charter boat, Reno said “It’s common for the guys at the barbecue to laugh and joke about stuff, even flying close to people on the ground or in boats who love to look out and wave at the pilot and the pilot waves back.”
Judge Sanders replied that she was disturbed by what Reno said, giving her the impression that such behavior is condoned by those attending the weekly Newport Airport barbecues. She turned to Battersby and said, “And I don’t buy your story that you didn’t see the charter boat and that you were only practising emergency water landings. And the jury didn’t buy your story either.”
Battersby has been in the Lincoln County Jail for about two months so his year sentence will be up in roughly ten months, being given credit for time already served. Battersby told the judge he has serious medical issues. Judge Sanders replied, “Our jail can handle that. You’ll get the medical care you need. Just because you have medical issues doesn’t mean you don’t serve your time.”