David Dobrik is being sued over an accident involving an excavator that resulted in fellow YouTube star Jeff Wittek incurring near-fatal injuries.
Wittek, a former member of Dobrik’s Vlog Squad who made videos with him and other influencers in that group, filed a lawsuit claiming that he suffered critical injuries because of Dobrik’s actions, per TMZ. Wittek says that during the summer of 2020 he traveled with Dobrik and friends to Utah Lake in Provo, Utah, to film a video intended to be a part of Dobrik’s “social media comeback.” According to TMZ, Wittek went on to explain that the concept for the video was supposed to be that Dobrik would park an excavator in the lake with a rope dangling off the bucket and then use the heavy machinery to swing people around in the water while they were riding on things like wakeboards and inflatable tubes.
However, according to TMZ, Wittek claims that while filming Dobrik suggested they try one where someone just held onto the rope while he swung them around in the air. Wittek goes on to explain that when it was his turn, Dobrik, who was operating the construction equipment, started to swing the arm of the excavator at “unsafe speeds” before slowing it abruptly, causing Wittek to slam into the side of the excavator and suffer “a myriad of injuries,” per the lawsuit obtained by People. According to People, Footage was later posted to YouTube in April 2021, but has since been deleted.
The former Vlog Squad member doesn’t detail the specifics of those myriad injuries in the lawsuit, but he has previously said that he almost died that day, per TMZ, breaking his foot and hip, tearing a ligament in his leg, shattering his skull in nine places, and almost losing an eye. As a result of this incident, per TMZ, Wittek says he’s lost wages and earning capacity, and has accumulated numerous, large hospital bills. He is suing Dobrik for general negligence and intentional tort, seeking over $10 million in damages.
In the months since the accident, Wittek has been outspoken about his health struggles, documenting them on social media and on his podcast, Jeff FM. On an episode of the podcast from February, the YouTuber said that he is no longer on speaking terms with Dobrik after he failed to reach out to check on him after the incident. “I’ve been protecting this guy for so long and there’s so much more to the story than just him not texting me for a week after I had such a drastic surgery where I could’ve been blind,” Wittek said of Dobrik. “I woke up from surgery. A day goes by, no text from him. Another day goes by, no text…. I just want to fucking tell the truth, finally. I gave this motherfucker so many chances. Even now, a week later, I still haven’t heard a peep.”
He added, “Imagine you smash somebody’s skull in, they take it on the chin, they don’t sue you, they don’t fucking press charges…I nearly died, I came an inch from death and an inch from going blind. I’ll have lifelong brain injuries and saved him from fucking everything. You would have got deported, you would have got put in jail for manslaughter, you could have got sued for everything, I took it on the chin.”
On his own podcast, Views, Dobrik referred to the accident as “the worst thing that’s ever happened to me,” adding that he “would fucking do anything to take that day back.” However, while Dobrik says he wishes it had been him up there instead of Wittek, he insists that the stunt was Wittek’s idea. He claims that the former Vlog Squad member is actually “pissed” at him because he broke his promise not to tell people Wittek was the one who wanted to do it. But regardless, Dobrik concluded, “He got hurt because I was driving. That’s it, and I fucking know that, and like I said, any chance I would get, I would take that back…That’ll be the biggest regret of my life. My entire life. I really hope there’s not a moment that I regret as much as that one.”
Vanity Fair has reached out to Dobrik for comment.