Helicopter operators found not guilty of unlawfully flying FCSO chopper

Helicopter operators found not guilty of unlawfully flying FCSO chopper

FLORENCE COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - The two men charged for unlawfully entering a Florence County helicopter were found not guilty in court Wednesday.

The trial started Monday for Dusan Fridl and Hemming Hemmingsen. They are now clear of their charges.

The Florence County Sheriff's Office claimed the two flew the chopper for a maintenance flight while it was owned by the county.

Fridl is the manager of Lake City Airport and Hemmingsen is a pilot and flight instructor.

The two decided several years ago to try to set up a Pee Dee Air Support Unit using a federal program that allows local law enforcement agencies to use surplus military equipment.

The Lake City Police Department became the agency that would get the helicopter, but Fridl and Hemmingsen were assigned managerial and piloting responsibilities for it once it became available in December 2014.

The Florence County Sheriff's Office decided to start its own air unit and got permission from the Lake City Police Department to transfer the helicopter.

Fridl and Hemmingsen were out of town when they were told FCSO wanted to pick up the helicopter, so they said FCSO could pick it up on April 7. The document for the motion to dismiss said that's when they both thought the transfer of ownership would happen.

The day before, Fridl and Hemmingsen took the helicopter for an hour-long maintenance flight.

On April 7, FCSO picked up the helicopter and signed for the responsibility of it, the motion states.

Hemmingsen and Fridl were arrested April 16 and April 20 because FCSO said it had ownership of the helicopter at that time, the motion said.

Their charge, which was unlawful entry, damage or removal of equipment from an aircraft, could have landed them each in prison for up to 10 years.

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