NYC teen dies after toy helicopter hits his head

A 19-year-old who was flying a remote control helicopter in a New York City park was killed after it struck him in the head.

Roman Pirozek Jr., 19, believed killed by blade in accident at park near busy highway

Investigators stand near a remote controlled toy helicopter that apparently struck and killed a 19-year-old man on Thursday in a Brooklyn park. (WABC-TV/Associated Press)

A 19-year-old who was flying a remote control helicopter in a New York City park was killed after it struck him in the head.

Roman Pirozek Jr. was pronounced dead at the Brooklyn park near a busy parkway, and initial reports suggested he was killed by the helicopter's blade, police said.

The accident occurred in Calvert Vaux Park, where operating remote control helicopters is allowed in designated areas. A club for hobbyists, the Seaview Rotary Wings Helicopter Club, flies its aircraft from a field there.

Pirozek's father, Roman Pirozek, is a vice-president of the club. He and other club members didn't return messages seeking comment Thursday.

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.

'Difficult' to operate

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 1.38-metre wingspan and can reach speeds of up to 95 km/h, but is used primarily for tricky, acrobatic manoeuvres.

"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 after the student he was teaching lost control of the remote control helicopter.