BETTENDORF, IA — An Iowa toddler was injured in a freak accident when a drone hit the swings he was playing on and smacked the 1-year-old in the face, leaving him bleeding from a deep gash on his right cheek and injuries to his upper lip and mouth.
Cassandra Roberts, was playing with her son, Atticus, on the swings at Crow Park in Bettendorf last month when the two individuals flying the drone — or UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) — lost control of it, according to Bettendorf police.
The two operators in their 20s, who were identified after police put out a plea for the public’s help on Facebook, were flying the drone in the soccer area when they lost control. They were with a male and female couple in their 50s or 60s.
It’s unclear what, if any, charges they will face. It’s illegal under city ordinance to fly a drone in a public park.
Roberts told television station KWQC the drone that hit her baby was “good-sized” and had four propellers. She said she could hear it “swoop over to the swings.”
“I would think my kid falls off the playground before he gets hit with a drone,” Roberts said.
Those flying the drone came over to apologize, but she was preoccupied with getting her son to the hospital and didn’t get their names. She filed a police report after taking Atticus to a nearby hospital emergency room. It took three stitches to close the cut on his cheek and two for the injury to his lip.
You can see the photo of the boy’s injuries here.
The accident “should not have happened,” Roberts told the television station. “He’s pretty tough,” she said of Atticus, “but not tough enough for a drone.”
The Federal Aviation Administration has strict rules on drone use, including a requirement that operators must be 16 years old to get a remote pilot certificate, hours when they may be flown and one that prohibits flying the small unmanned aircraft over anyone not directly participating in the operation.
There have been several other accidents involving drones during the years of their rise in popularity.
In a 2014 Christmas promotion for a TGI Fridays, a drone dangling sprigs of mistletoe crashed and clipped a Brooklyn Daily photographer in the nose. “It literally chipped off a tip of my nose,” photographer Georgine Benvenuto said at the time. “It took off part of my nose and cut me here, right under my chin.”
That incident followed the injury of several people the year before when a drone being used to record video of the Great Bull Run at Virginia Motorsports crashed into the stands.
Though widely available, drone use remains controversial, prompting worries they could be weaponized or used for other nefarious purposes.
File photo via Shutterstock
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