KDKA’s Dave Crawley sues Red Bull, Regatta over 2017 river plunge injuries
KDKA-TV reporter Dave Crawley sued the EQT Three Rivers Regatta, Red Bull and a marketing agency over injuries he suffered during a 2017 promotional stunt when he plunged 22 feet into the Allegheny River in a homemade flying machine.
Crawley, who wore a life vest and helmet, landed on his face and front on Aug. 4, 2017, in the Allegheny River at the Red Bull Flugtag event. He suffered injuries to his spleen, his diaphragm and a traumatic brain injury, according to the lawsuit. He eventually had to have his spleen removed. He stopped working Aug. 21 of that year after “collapsing while covering a story,” the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit, filed last week in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court, describes Flugtag — which translates to “flying day” — as an event where teams selected by Red Bull fly their “contraptions” from elevation into water.
Crawley was invited by global marketing company M&C Saatchi five days prior to the event to participate in a media flight that would air one day before as a promotional piece, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit contends Crawley didn’t want to accept the assignment. He relented because he had been passed over for recent assignments because of his age or health, according to the suit. He claims he feared he would have jeopardized his career with KDKA or KDKA’s relationship with the Regatta if he didn’t accept it.
Red Bull issued a statement Sunday to the Tribune-Review that said the company “has a long history of hosting major public events and the safety of spectators and participants is always our primary concern. The first Red Bull Flugtag took place in 1991, and it has been a well-known event over the years.”
KDKA is not a defendant in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit claims Red Bull’s marketing and promotion of its product by using extreme sporting events has led to many injuries and fatalities around the world.
“Red Bull and its business partners have and continue to suppress public knowledge of the dangers associated with their events,” the lawsuit said.
Crawley was presented with a “professional media permit and release agreement” immediately before his flight. The lawsuit claims he wasn’t allowed enough time to have it reviewed by a lawyer or fully read the release before he signed it.
The lawsuit also claimed the aircraft he was given to ride in looked different from the one he had previously selected.
After the crashing into the water, Crawley, while in pain, “finishes the narration of his media flight later that day so that the story can run as a build up for the official start of the Flugtag the next morning,” according to the lawsuit.
Over the next 17 days he was ill, but kept working until he collapsed while covering a story at Duquesne University.
“Fortunately for him, he is just minutes away from (UPMC) Mercy Hospital where he is taken for emergency medical treatment and lifesaving surgery,” the lawsuit stated.
He would later find out the release prevented him from publishing any photographs or footage of injury or death that may occur while filming, according to the lawsuit.
He is suing the defendants for fraud, fraudulent misrepresentation or nondisclosure and negligence.
Crawley’s wife also is suing for being deprived of her husband’s aid, comfort, assistance, companionship and consortium after his injuries.
Crawley is seeking damages for his pain and suffering, bodily injuries, medical expenses, loss of earnings and loss of ordinary pleasures in life.
Attempts to contact the other two defendants, M&C Saatchi and the Regatta, along with KDKA were unsuccessful.
Emily Balser is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Emily at 724-226-4680, [email protected] or via Twitter .