Drones and the dangers of their use can barely stay out of recent news, but the risks of personal drones once again hit home in Britain recently, when a toddlers eyeball was sliced in half by their neighbour’s drone.
16-month old Oscar Webb was playing in front of his home in Southport-upon-Severn, Worcestershire, while the family’s next door neighbour, Simon Evans was flying his drone in his front garden. It was then that the drone collided with a tree and was sent spinning out of control before hitting Oscar. Despite the drone being flown responsibly, the result was one of the worst incidents involving a consumer drone.
The pilot, Evans was described by the BBC as an experienced drone operator, recounted the event: “It was up for about 60 seconds. As I brought it back down to land, it just clipped the tree and span round. The next thing I know I’ve just heard my friend shriek and say, ‘Oh God no’ and I turned around and just saw blood and his baby on the floor crying.”
After being rushed to hospital, it took multiple attempts at surgery to save the eye before it was determined that it would have to be removed. Doctors described the injury as one of the worst eye injuries that they had ever seen. Dr. Faye Mellington, an optics specialist at Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, told the BBC: “I’ve not seen one in somebody so young, and I’ve also not see one from a drone.” “Any instrument that can come close to the eye and at high speed can cause devastating injuries,” she said “I supposed given that so many are around now and in frequent use, one may expect several more injuries of this kind.” Oscar is expected to receive a prosthetic eye in the future.
Evans is yet to fly a drone since the incident, “I look at the drones in the garage and I feel physically sick.” He now feels concerned about how dangerous drones can be.
It is incidents like this that really drive home that drones, even used carefully, can be dangerous and that anyone operating a drone should be aware of this and any dangers in their surroundings.