As a news industry veteran, Scot Yount knows a thing or two about drones. But his encounter with an unmanned aerial vehicle during the Memorial Day holiday was a little too close for comfort.
While attending a parade in Marblehead on Monday, Yount watched curiously as a drone floated high above the procession, capturing the activity below.
Moments later, that drone came crashing down, landing on Yount, then bouncing off a second spectator, before coming to rest on the pavement.
“I was standing against a building and I hear people gasp, and then I feel this crash on my head and my neck. I just got hit,” he said.
Yount said the drone was probably flown too close to the building he was leaning on, and just hit the wall.
Calls to the drone operator and Marblehead police were not returned Tuesday. The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement it was “investigating the use of the unmanned aircraft in Marblehead.”
Besides the initial shock, Yount said he was not angry about the accident — especially because he was not holding his baby daughter in his arms when the drone plummeted toward him.
Yount suffered a minor neck injury.
He said the reaction around him was different. Bystanders called police and paramedics.
“People went nuts because it’s a drone,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of controversy over licensing and operating drones.”
It was a strange coincidence that the drone fell on Yount, because, as a former NECN reporter, he kept an eye on the growing use of drones and the emerging regulations on flying them.
“Somebody said to me, of all the people it could have fallen on, it was lucky it was me, and not someone else,” he said. “Some people don’t like them; they are afraid of them.”
In February, the FAA released a set of proposed rules for the operation of drones.
For the time being, however, the regulators are advising recreational drone operators to stay a “sufficient distance from populated areas” and keep their drones in sight at all times.
The drone’s operator was apologetic for crashing the flying machine.
“His wife was so upset, and I said, ‘It’s not that big of a deal. I’m OK, I’m not hurt,’ ” Yount said.
Steve Annear can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.