-- There were over 1,200 police chases in Los Angeles County alone in 2014, an average of about three per day. Authorities have to deal with chases involving cars, motorcycles and even the occasional box truck, but the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department experienced a new one Monday.
Sheriff’s deputies spotted a motorized paraglider flying in the vicinity of Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic, California. Authorities feared that Ron Nagin, 62, was attempting to drop contraband in the detention center and began pursuing the veteran power paraglider with a helicopter.
"We have several open compounds, so there was concern that somebody might be dropping contraband or there could be some crazy escape attempt. It was really hard to say," Los Angeles County Sheriff's Sgt. Brian Allen told ABC station KABC-TV.
Nagin, who has 15 years of experience with the sport, said he didn’t hear the Sheriff’s department helicopter sirens or verbal commands because of the machine that was strapped to his back.
“I had the motor about eight inches away from my head, screaming in my ear,” Nagin said. “Of course, I am not going to hear anyone yelling at me from behind.”
Nagin also said he technically wasn’t flying around the prison buildings and said depth perception could have led authorities to believe he was flying around or over the detention center.
“I was three quarters of a mile from the detention center, but the prison has property that goes for about a mile to the freeway so, technically, I was on the prison property,” Nagin said.
But Nagin says it would have been virtually impossible for him to drop any illegal drugs or contraband into the prison.
“I would’ve had to be at least 25 feet above the ground to drop any type of drugs to the prison,” Nagin said. “I was around 3,000 feet above the ground."
After the Sheriff’s helicopter cut off his flight path, Nagin immediately flew to the ground and was greeted by policemen, state troopers and prison guards.
Deputies detained Nagin and he apologized repeatedly. After being searched, he was released at the scene. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said the investigation into the incident is still ongoing.
Nagin, a pastor, said he is just trying to enjoy life and has been welcomed to fly in the area by the property owner who owns the land near the prison.
“My philosophy is to just enjoy life,” Nagin said. “I fly to enjoy God’s creation.”