Two men, in their 40s, had to be rushed to a hospital last week after attempting to retrieve a drone stuck in power lines. The potentially life-threatening incident took place at a state-managed park in southeastern Australia.
While an investigation into the incident is still on, it is believed a recreational pilot crashed his personal drone into 66kV powerlines before leaving to return with a flatbed truck with a crane fitted. He then asked a bystander to operate the crane to lift him up to the powerlines to retrieve the drone.
This is when the drone operator is believed to have made contact with the power lines, receiving an electric shock that resulted in severe upper body burns. The man was rushed to the hospital around 9:30 p.m. on January 5, where he continues to be in a serious but stable condition.
The bystander operating the crane was taken to hospital with minor lower-body burns and in a stable condition, Energy Safe Victoria (ESV), an independent energy safety regulator for the state of Victoria, reports.
Following the incident, ESV is reminding drone pilots that under the state’s Electricity Safety Act, flying drones that weigh less than 2kg within three meters of power lines is prohibited. Cranes are also prohibited from coming within 6.4 meters of power lines without additional safety measures in place.
“While the use of drones has recently become a popular recreational activity, people need to be aware of the responsibilities associated with their use,” ESV CEO Leanne Hughson says. “It is incredibly dangerous to operate a drone near powerlines because if they become entangled, as happened here, there is a serious health risk to people and to the electricity network.”
Indeed, if a personal item somehow ends up lodged in or around power lines, the last thing you want to do is try to retrieve it yourself. You should always contact the relevant electricity company to retrieve your belongings as they have the qualified technicians to do this kind of dangerous work.