Athlete Raija Ogden was only meters away from finishing a western Australia triathlon when she was injured by a falling drone.
Ogden was treated at the scene before she was taken to a hospital, where she had to get three stitches to treat a head wound.
“Basically we should all just thank our lucky stars that there [were] no injuries to a child or nobody’s eye got taken out,” Ogden said after the incident.
The drone’s operator, local photographer Warren Abrams, had set the drone up to hover about 10 meters above the race. His intention was to capture images of the triathletes in the final 10km stretch of the run portion of western Australia’s Geraldton Endure Batavia triathalon.
In the initial investigation, Abrams suggested that someone else had briefly taken over flying the drone, causing him to lose control of it. However, because such an attack could easily be carried out with a smartphone, Abrams said that it would be extremely difficult to determine who was responsible for the attack.
Conflicting reports about the incident have surfaced in local media. While some say that the drone fell directly onto Ogden, others say that she tripped and fell after being startled by the falling drone.
Abrams maintains that video footage clearly demonstrates that the drone did not, in fact, fall onto Ogden; it fell directly behind her.
Ogden disputed this version of events, noting that she sat down after the drone hit her because she thought she was going to faint.
Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority is looking into the reports. The authority’s rules state that unmanned aircraft, such as a drone, must fly at least 30 meters away from people. Furthermore, drone operators must be certified by the agency; news reports raised questions as to whether Abrams was legally certified to operate the drone.
Geraldton Triathlon club has apologized to Ogden.