The 19-year-old man who was killed in Gravesend yesterday after a remote control helicopter sliced off a portion of his skull was a longtime model aircraft enthusiast, friends and family said.
Roman Pirozek Jr. was introduced to the miniature aircraft by his father at a young age, DNAinfo reports. He was also the vice president of the Seaview Rotary Flying Club, and his Facebook page (since taken down) reveals that he traveled extensively around the country to partake in model chopper conferences.
“I saw Roman this morning putting his helicopter [into] the station wagon, he seemed happy,” neighbor Victor Tommaso told the Post. “He would travel with it and he’s a real professional. Flying a helicopter was his passion. He grew up loving those planes.”
The accident happened around 3:30 p.m. yesterday while Pirozek was piloting the chopper around Gravesend's Calvert Vaux Park. The tabloid reports that Pirozek was attempting a stunt when the device hit him "at a high speed," the rotors taking out a "good chunk" of his head. According to onlookers—of which there were at least four—Pirozek collapsed to the ground and bled to death almost instantly.
“The major vessels in his neck were involved and he just bled out very quickly,” a first responder told the Daily News.
Those who knew him said Pirozek often attempted stunts that "defied gravity," the Times reports. “A lot of people think they are toys, but these really aren’t toys,” one of Pirozek's fellow fliers told the paper. “These are high-performance models and they can be very dangerous.”
According to one hobby shop owner, there are three primary reasons for accidents: The remote sends a faulty signal, the model is poorly built or the pilot is attempting a trick beyond his or her skill level. Authorities are still looking into the exact circumstances behind Pirozek's death.
Pirozek was supposed to give his 17-year-old sister, Amy, a ride to softball practice that afternoon. She told DNAinfo that she knew something was wrong when he didn't show up. "My parents called and said that he had gotten into an accident," she said. "They didn't know if he would be okay. I just knew."