NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A man was killed while operating a remote-controlled helicopter at a park in Brooklyn on Thursday afternoon.
Just before 4 p.m. at Calvert Vaux Park in the Gravesend section of the borough, 19-year-old Roman Pirozek Jr. suffered a severed neck when the blade of the chopper somehow hit him. He was pronounced dead a short time later, CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider reported.
“The guy was flying the helicopter and it was out of control and it chopped off his neck. It decapitated him,” said Joseph Greco, one of four witnesses to see the horror unfold.
Police remained on the scene collecting evidence and investigating the incident, and were not immediately sure how Pirozek lost control of the helicopter or how the blade managed to hit him.
Pirozek, of Woodhaven, Queens, was a member of the Seaview Rotary Wings Club. The young man also had a YouTube channel dedicated to documenting his flights. His father was a founding member of the club, but was said to be inconsolable following the bizarre accident.
“He always protected me. He always looked out for me. I’ll never forget that,” Amy Pirozek said of her brother.
The park is sanctioned by the NYC Parks Department for flying model helicopters. It is a favorite spot for flying enthusiasts and it was believed Pirozek was enjoying his hobby with other club members when tragedy struck, Schneider reported.
The types of model helicopter Pirozek was controlling have blade speeds of more than 250 mph, and they have caused at least one other death in the United States, Schneider reported.
Pirozek was a graduate of the High School for Construction Trades, Engineering and Architecture in Queens, and is described by friends as a knowledgeable veteran RC chopper user.
Eaton Bryce had been flying with him since Pirozek was 4 years old.
“It’s beyond belief. I would put Roman at a world class level. Absolutely a world class pilot,” Bryce said.
Added neighbor Victor Tommaso: “He was good at it. And this is the way he died, with the thing he loves to do. It’s a shame. The whole family is going to be devastated. The whole block is devastated.”
It is unclear if Pirozek modified the helicopter in any way or if he was attempting a particularly difficult maneuver when he lost control of the device that killed him, CBS 2’s Dave Carlin reported.
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