CBS 6 EXCLUSIVE: Friends survive Bull Run, injured by falling aircraft

Posted at 11:27 PM, Aug 26, 2013
and last updated 2013-08-26 23:27:02-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - Brad Fillius, his wife and several friends drove nearly two hours from the Norfolk area to take part in Saturday's Great Bull Run in Dinwiddie.

The group ran in the 11 a.m. race without injury and then headed to the stands to watch later runs. They assumed they were out of harm's way, because they were a safe distance from the running bulls.

Then a remote-controlled aircraft carrying a camera above them fell from the sky.

"It was a pretty significant blow and it knocked the wind out of me for sure," Fillius, a naval commander stationed in Norfolk, said.

Fillius recalled the crowd being excited to see the remote-controlled aircraft taking video from above. A few minutes later, the device fell and hit Fillius in the chest.

"What made it a little more significant was that it was that it was completely a blind shot," Fillius said.

While he got the most direct hit from the aircraft,  his two friends felt the side effects as the device hit them too.

"Because I saw it, I was able to put up my hands to protect my face, but my fingers felt numb at first because they were hit by the propellers," Eileen Peskoff said. Peskoff fell backward off her bleacher seat as the device fell toward her.

"It basically turned itself in to a missile at that point and it wasn’t like it dropped, it made a b-line," Patrick Lewis, the third to be injured, said.

The injured trio headed to the medical tent where they were given ice packs for their injuries. All three admitted that nothing appeared to be a seriously injured or broken on their bodies. They claimed they spoke with event organizers who were apologetic and offered a full refund and an explanation for the crash. [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Drone crashes into crowd at Great Bull Run]

"The reason that was given to us was that the UAV or the drone, the battery had died, and it basically plummeted because of that," Fillius said.

CBS 6 spoke by phone Monday night to Scott Hansen of Virginia Beach. Hansen claimed to own the remote-controlled aircraft involved in the incident.

Hansen, who directs and produces films, also leases specialized camera equipment, including his remote-controlled aircraft camera worth about $7,500. [CBS 6 EXCLUSIVE: FAA investigates Bull Run ‘drone crash’]

Hansen said he leased the camera to someone involved with the Great Bull Run, but claimed he could not reveal the name of the operator without breaking a confidentiality agreement in their contract.

Hansen claimed he was not at Saturday's event and has no immediate plans to repair the significant damage to his device. He added he planned to stop renting out his flying camera -- for now.

Hansen said he feels badly about the accident and was relieved no one was seriously injured. He said he spoke with the group involved and offered to reimburse their costs for the event and for any medical visits.