A 19-year-old man was killed in New York on Thursday after the toy helicopter he was operating hit him in the head.
The incident happened near Bay 44th Street and Shore Parkway in Calvert Vaux Park in Brooklyn.
Fire officials said over the scanner that the man, later identified as Roman Pirozek Jr., was decapitated. NBC reported that law enforcementofficials said that Pirozek “sliced off the top of his head” and “sheared off part of his shoulder.” He was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.
Pirozek was trying to perform a trick with a model helicopter, witnesses told officials. His father was with him on Thursday. They often fly helicopters together.
Pirozek is well-known for flying model planes, with a YouTube channel with postings from his flights and a variety of pictures on his Facebook.
At least three people were on the field when it happened.
The field where Pirozek was flying is sanctioned by the Academy of Model Aeronautics, a national organization, an unidentified friend told the Wall Street Journal.
The helicopter that struck Pirozek came to a rest on its propeller.
Officials are investigating the situation.
Enthusiasts are allowed to operate model aircraft in designated parts of Calvert Vaux Park, which features a playground, basketball courts and baseball diamonds.
Pirozek’s father is the vice president of the Seaview Rotary Wings Helicopter Club, which organizes flights in the park. He hasn’t responded to requests for comment.
Police said they didn’t suspect any criminal act was involved in the teenager’s death. They didn’t immediately release the model and make of the helicopter he was flying.
In a YouTube video posted in July by someone named Roman Pirozek Jr., a T-Rex 700N DFC is shown flying around at high speeds in lateral and vertical jolts.
That particular make is on the larger side of remote control helicopters, said Rich Hanson, spokesman for the Muncie, Ind.-based Academy of Model Aeronautics, a membership group of hobbyists.
Hanson said the helicopter has an almost 4 1/2-foot wingspan and can reach speeds of up to 60 mph but is used primarily for tricky, acrobatic maneuvers.
“Flying a RC helicopter is one of the more difficult aircraft to operate,” he said. “There are really two common reasons one might go out: pilot error or equipment failure.”
Pirozek’s death, Hanson said, likely is only the second ever caused by a remote control helicopter in the United States. He said some years ago an instructor in Texas was killed by a remote control helicopter after the student he was teaching lost control of it.
Pirozek’s family said he was a good guy.
“He was the best person ever, he had the biggest heart,” said Roman’s sister Amy Pirozek. “I think he was just doing it because it was his day off.”
Friends mourned the death as well.
“Rest in paradise Roman, you were one of my favorite guys to always hang out in the weekends,” said Carlos Velez via Facebook. “I can’t believe God took you so early, my prayers goes to your family and ‘specially your sister.”
Story developing; check back for updates.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.