Los Angeles — California deputies responding to the emergency landing of a small plane in a warehouse parking lot arrested the pilot on suspicion of being under the influence, 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, could face a misdemeanor charge of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It wasn't immediately known if he has an attorney.
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 Whittier, a Los Angeles suburb about 70 miles (112.65 kilometers) north of where it took off.
"A DUI involving an airplane, that doesn't happen very often," Villanueva said.
Roberts was held in lieu of $1,000 bail and ordered to appear in court July 5.
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, spokesman Ian 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.