Last Thursday, Superior Court Judge Christina Reigh sentenced 38-year-old Benjamin Hancock to a $25,000 fine, probation, and restitution for a felony assault that happened in June 2014.

The incident happened on the Mulchatna River, near Dillingham, when Hancock struck a boater in the head with a float plane he was piloting.

The victim suffered permanent brain damage.

State Troopers investigated and found Hancock and another pilot had been accompanying the victim and another boater as they moved skiffs on the river.

Hancock said he hit a downdraft during takeoff, but others said Hancock "buzzed" the victim, flying deliberately and dangerously low over the boat.

Alaska Wildlife Troopers reviewed GPS data from the flight and testified Hancock could have been well above the victim when the incident occurred.

At the sentencing hearing, the judge said she considered this kind of reckless flying a serious problem in rural Alaska, noting the victim and his family have had their lives dramatically altered by Hancock's reckless actions.

She added that she hoped Hancock's conviction, probation and fine would send a message to other pilots that there are serious consequences for reckless conduct.

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