Drone Crashes Into Crowd at First US Bull Run in Virginia [Video]

NEW YORK | Monday, August 26th, 2013 7:40pm EDT

An unmanned aerial vehicle crashed from the sky into a crowded stand of spectators on Saturday while shooting video of the event at the Virginia Motorsports Park.

The first Great Bull Run made its debut in Virginia, USA.  About 4000 people dodged 1,000-pound bulls as they sprinted down a quarter-mile dirt track on Saturday in rural Virginia.

The Virginia run was set on the grounds of the Virginia Motorsport Park, a drag strip south of Richmond.

Animals rights groups, such as PETA, have protested the Great Bull Run, saying the events puts stress on the animals.

Meanwhile, the other runners took part in a tomato fight, inspired again by Spain’s annual La Tomatina. Participants hurled 50,000 tomatoes at fellow runners.

The Bull Run is inspired by the annual running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. Some have criticized the treatment of bulls in the runs. Wayne Pacelle of the Humane Society of the United States says he’s attending the Virginia event to ensure there’s no mistreatment.

The website for the Virginia event states that appropriate safety measures are taken for the US adaptation, proudly proclaiming that: “In fact, there have been only 15 deaths in the Pamplona running of the bulls in the past 102 years!”

The unexpected attack, though, came from the skies, as a drone capturing aerial images dropped on the crowds below, injuring at least four.

A drone crashed into the grandstand at Virginia Motorsports Park during the Great Bull Run, said Major W.B. Knott, of the Dinwiddie County sheriff’s office, reporting what might be described as the dramatic encounter between a controversial piece of hardware and a controversial spectacle, writes the Washington Post.

Knott said he was told that four or five people suffered very minor injuries. They were treated by EMS personnel at the event, and none was taken to a hospital, Knott said.

The drone was one of two flying overhead that day, attempting to gather bird’s-eye footage of the participants, who were fleeing from upward of 24 bulls.

The drone that stayed aloft belongs to ESPN. Police have been trying to find out who owns the piece of equipment which measured approximately four feet in diameter and resembled a giant mechanized spider.

“It was pilot error,” Rob Dickens, COO of event organizer The Great Bull Run tells The Verge. The drone fell as a result of its battery dying mid-flight, an occurrence that Dickens doesn’t think will be common, “It was a freak thing.”

The Great Bull Run, which says it’s organizing the first series of bull runs ever held in the United States, will continue to allow drone use at its events. “Drones get great footage,” Dickens says. “People use them all the time. I don’t think that this is any reason to stop using them.”

Pilotless drone technology has stirred concern for years, being renowned for its stealthy air assaults.

The smaller, personal fliers can be procured for some $300. Towards the end of June, one man was arrested for sending a flying camera drone to snap aerial images of Pretoria hospital, near Johannesburg, in which former South African president Nelson Mandela was dying.

Surveillance drones are already in use by law enforcement officials and can carry on-board live-feed video cameras, infrared cameras and radar. Some cameras are capable of reading milk cartons from as high as 60,000 feet, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, writes RT.

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