Since Monday, an Akron couple hasn’t seen the mysterious white drone flying over their house in the city’s Ellet neighborhood.
But just last week, they said a drone was trying to lure children — including their own — off of the playground at Windemere Community Learning Center, right next to their home.
Now, Akron Public Schools is warning parents about the possible suspicious drone flying around the school.
Windemere Principal Megan Lee-Wilfong sent a letter to families Monday saying a neighbor had reported a drone with “voice technology” talking to children who were playing on school grounds in the evenings and over the weekend.
“If you are allowing your child to come to school to play in the evenings or on the weekends, please make sure that he/she is accompanied by an adult. I know that children playing at school would seem safe, but without adequate adult supervision, anything can happen,” Lee-Wilfong wrote in the letter.
Lois and Michael M. — who didn’t want their last name printed for privacy reasons — said they reported the incident.
Michael M. said his kids are at the playground nearly every day. Two weeks ago, his two 13-year-old sons, Gavin and Jacen, said they started seeing a small white drone flying over the playground.
The kids said the drone talked to them in a computerized voice from what looked like a built-in speaker.
“It keeps saying ‘hey’ until you reply,” Jacen said.
The drone showed up sporadically above the playground multiple times two weeks ago. But last week, Gavin and Jacen said they saw the drone with their friends every day in the evening. Michael and Lois M. said they heard it, too.
Gavin and Jacen said their friends said “what” back to the drone, and the drone told them to follow it.
Michael M. said one of the children actually did. The child, one of Gavin’s and Jacen’s friends, started following the drone down the street to Dollar Tree, where the drone voice said it was going.
Michael M. said the child’s father happened to see him walking down the street and stopped the child before he got to Dollar Tree.
“He got lucky,” Michael M. said. “Who knows where he would be right now.”
After that, Michael and Lois M. reported the incident to the school on Friday. Lois said Lee-Wilfong “moved really quick,” addressing the issue when the school opened on Monday.
Schools spokesman Mark Williamson stressed that the drone has not been spotted during school hours and school officials have not seen it.
Akron police spokesman Rick Edwards said police haven’t received any complaints about a drone moving suspiciously or talking to children near the school.
He urged people to contact authorities if they see a suspicious drone, but also noted that it’s not illegal to fly drones.
Beacon Journal staff writer Rick Armon contributed to this report. Theresa Cottom can be reached at 330-996-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @Theresa_Cottom.