Woodhaven teen dies in model aircraft tragedy

Woodhaven teen dies in model aircraft tragedy
By Bianca Fortis

Residents of a quiet street in Woodhaven were reeling last week after a teen died when he was struck by the model helicopter he was operating.

Roman Pirozek Jr., 19, was attempting to complete a stunt with a large model helicopter in Calvert Vaux Park in Brooklyn when the machine turned toward him and hit him. It sliced off the top of his head and part of his shoulder, police said. The accident occurred at about 3:30 p.m. Sept. 5. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Officials were investigating the accident.

Pirozek was an avid flyer who had picked up the hobby from his father. He frequently posted items about the hobby on social media and had several videos on a YouTube channel from previous flights that showed him performing complicated maneuvers.

In a July 15 tweet Pirozek said he missed flying and that he was “really in the mood to fly again just like I did all weekend.”

Model aircraft similar to Pirozek’s retail for about $1,000.

The park in which Pirozek was flying is known for its model aircraft field, located at 26th and Cropsey avenues, where enthusiasts go to fly their machines.

The field is used by members of the Seaview Rotary Wings, a local chapter of the Academy of Model Aeronautics, with which both Pirozek and his father were affiliated.

A man who answered the door at Pirozek’s home Friday declined to comment.

The family’s neighbor, Victor Tommaso, said he has known the family for years.

“It’s really put a damper on the whole block,” he said.

He said he saw Pirozek loading up a station wagon that day at about 11 a.m. with the helicopter.

“I waved, and he waved back,” Tommaso said last Friday. “To think I just saw him yesterday and then five hours later he’s gone. That was his ambition, and he loved it. It was his hobby. His father’s, too.”

Tommaso said Pirozek had graduated from the High School for Construction Trades, Engineering and Architecture and worked in cargo at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Pirozek was an expert in both flying and repairing the machines, Tommaso said.

“I thought it was a nice hobby,” he said. “I didn’t realize how dangerous it is.”

Tommaso stressed that the machine Pirozek was operating, which had 3-foot-long blades, was not a toy.

“You have to know what you’re doing,” he said. “Believe me, he did.”

Reach reporter Bianca Fortis by email at bfortis@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.