Drone Crashes, Hits Triathlete in Batavia Triathlon

By @AringoYenko on

On Sunday, a drone crashed during Geraldton's Endure Batavia Triathlon, injuring triathlete Raiji Ogden. Ms Ogden had head injuries that required three stitches but will still continue with the competition.

On Wednesday, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) investigated the incident surrounding the crash.

In a statement obtained by ABC, CASA said that the drone might have breached some rules and regulations, including the minimum flying requirement of 30 metres away from people. The drone was filming the sport event when the controller lost control and hit Ms Ogden.

Local videographer, Warren Abrams, owned the drone. His company, New Era Photography and Film, was covering the event. He claimed that the drone dropped behind Ms Ogden, she was frightened and dropped to the ground, hence her head injuries.

"She looks over her shoulder and gets frightened, falling to the ground and bumping her head, but the drone didn't actually strike her," Mr Abrams said.

In an interview with The West Australian, Ms Ogden said that Mr Abrams claim was horrifying.

"I have lacerations on my head from the drone and the ambulance crew took a piece of propeller from my head. My hair was completely red with blood. I didn't hit the ground. I sat down because I just thought I was going to pass out," she said.

Mr Abrams claimed that the drone was "channel hopped" or hacked from the original controller.

However, CASA spokesman Peter Gibson said that Mr Abrams claim was unlikely to happen. He said the drone was of the sophisticated types that cannot be hacked.

"[But] the simpler ones that you can go down to a store and buy, maybe that is possible given that they're that much more basic. [It's] very unlikely they're going to be used in commercial operations where they're going to be near people or property," he told ABC.

However, Dr Mike Johnstone of Edith Cowan University contradicts CASA's statement saying that that there are types of drones that can be electronically hijack.

"The video stream ... whether we could take that over or intercept that ... it looks like at the moment that is potentially possible," he said.

There is a strict requirement that operators and owners of unmanned drones for commercial used be certified - neither Mr Abrams nor his company was certified.

Hai Tran, commercial drone company owner in Perth, said that drones are only safe in the hands of professional pilots.

"A lot of the amateur photographers, amateur aerial cinematographers are flying around places [where] you just shouldn't be flying these things unless you're very, very experienced," he said.

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