|Friday, May 24
Cremated remains dropped on Safeco from plane
SEATTLE -- A baseball fan's cremated ashes were dropped over Safeco Field by a low-flying plane Friday, prompting a hazardous materials scare.
The ash-filled container was dropped from a Cessna plane and hit the stadium roof at mid-morning, Seattle Fire Lt. Harold Webb said.
Someone called 911.
Hazardous materials crews responded, closing off the streets around the stadium. No one on the ground was hurt, and the streets were reopened in about an hour.
The identity of the remains was not immediately known.
"There was a spouse on board and her husband was a pilot and a giant Mariners fan, and wanted some of his ashes scattered over Safeco Field,'' Dave Menzimer, a Wings Aloft flight instructor, told KIRO-TV. "We've spoken to the FAA. There were no rules violations. The pilot was talking to the tower while all this was going on.''
But FAA regional spokesman Allen Kenitzer said the agency would investigate and could enforce civil penalties, including fines against the company or suspension of the pilot's license.
Regulations prohibit the dropping of objects from a plane unless precautions are taken to ensure they won't hurt anyone, he said.
The plane flew out of Boeing Field, about four miles south of the ballpark.
"We're certainly not pleased,'' Mariners spokesman Tim Hevly said before Seattle played the Baltimore Orioles on Friday night.
Hevly said the ash container bounced off the roof and landed on a street north of the stadium.
Mariners head groundskeeper Bob Christofferson said there was no trace of any ashes inside.
"I think that may be the weirdest thing I've ever heard or seen,'' he said. "I consider it a fluke. It's not something that happens every day.''
Christofferson joked he might need to start wearing a hard hat. People often ask if they can sprinkle remains in the ballpark, he said, but the organization has a policy against it.
"You think you've seen everything,'' said Lee Pelekoudas, Mariners vice president of baseball administration. "It's surprising a plane would go that close and that low. We're fortunate that's all it was with everything going on. That's pretty strange.''
Baltimore manager Mike Hargrove said the pilot made a bad decision, especially after Sept. 11.
When Hargrove heard the remains had missed their target, he said: "That would be my luck. Somebody would drop my ashes and miss.''