A 19-year-old in New York City died in a gruesome freak accident yesterday when he was hit in the head by the remote-control helicopter he was operating. Police say Roman Pirozek died almost instantly when he was hit by the machine's 2-foot-long blades, which sliced his neck and took off the top of his head, reports the New York Daily News. Pirozek, an accomplished model-helicopter pilot who was introduced to the hobby by his father, died in front of horrified witnesses in a Brooklyn park frequented by model-helicopter fans.
A fellow hobbyist says Pirozek specialized in extreme, gravity-defying maneuvers and predicts the death will spur safety improvements. The model helicopters, which can weigh more than 40 pounds, "crash all day long," the owner of Brooklyn Hobbies tells the New York Times, explaining that most crashes occur because the remote control fails, the model is badly built, or the operator attempts a move above their skill level. "This one is just a sad thing where a kid got hit," he says. "It probably happened in a blink of an eye."