Photographs by Jason Ivester
A turkey falls from pilot Dana Woods’ 1959 Cessna 182B at the 2016 Turkey Trot festival in Yellville.
Originally published October 12, 2017 at 02:23p.m., updated October 13, 2017 at 04:30a.m.
A complaint report seeking to halt “The Phantom Pilot” from dropping live turkeys this weekend in Arkansas remained at the prosecutor’s office, authorities say.
Marion County Sheriff Clinton Evans said Thursday afternoon that a deputy’s report was transferred from the sheriff’s office to the office of 14th Judicial Circuit Prosecuting Attorney David Ethredge. Evans had not been made aware of updates in the review at that time, he said.
Ethredge could not be reached Thursday. An employee at Ethredge's office said the prosecuting attorney was not set to return to his office until Monday.
On Oct. 5, Rose Hilliard of Bruno filed a complaint about the decades-old event in which turkeys are traditionally tossed from a low-flying airplane during Yellville’s Turkey Trot festival.
Hilliard, who said a Facebook post hinted at the return of The Phantom Pilot this year, argued that “a crime is going to be committed” if authorities allow the turkey drop to happen.
If an investigation became warranted, the Arkansas State Police would be asked to review, Evans previously told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Bill Sadler, a state police spokesman, has said the agency normally doesn’t open misdemeanor criminal cases in the immediate jurisdiction of a local law enforcement agency.
Arkansas Code 5-62-103 states that cruelty to animals is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine off up to $1,000.
Dana Woods, a Mountain View alderman and pharmacist, has flown for 15 years, including last year, as The Phantom Pilot.
The Federal Aviation Administration said Woods did not violate its rules because turkeys were dropped over an area that didn’t cause damage to people or property on the ground. Animal cruelty accusations are out of its jurisdiction, the agency said.
Of the about a dozen turkeys dropped last year, two reportedly died on impact.
2016 Turkey Trot festival
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reporter Bill Bowden contributed to this story.
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