A California Highway Patrol helicopter was forced to abandon a stolen vehicle search Saturday night after narrowly avoiding a mid-air collision with a drone.
"We didn't know what it was," pilot Pete Gavitte said. "We made an evasive turn to the right. It was too close for our comfort. We both realized it was a drone."
Around 9 p.m. Saturday, the aircraft was searching for a stolen vehicle on eastbound state Highway 4 in Martinez, roughly 700 to 800 feet above the ground.
The flight crew noticed a red light outside the aircraft and the pilot took evasive action to avoid an imminent collision with the drone -- which passed by at close range, according to officers.
The crew lit up the drone with a spotlight, then followed it back to Roux Court, where it landed. The Martinez police were called to contact the drone operator, who police identified.
That information will be forwarded to law enforcement agencies for possible prosecution, according to officers.
Christie Smith contributed to this report.