YouTuber David Dobrik is being sued for $10 million in damages by a former member of his Vlog Squad who was critically injured during a disastrous stunt involving a massive excavator that was filmed for Dobrik’s channel.
In new legal filings, Jeff Wittek, 32, accuses Dobrik, 25, of “general negligence and intentional tort”, saying he almost died after he was flung around on a rope tied to an excavator operated by Dobrik. According to the lawsuit, the influencer suffered a broken skull, facial fractures and nearly lost his eye. Wittek alleges that he’s suffered wage loss, loss of earning capacity and accumulated significant hospital bills as a result of his injuries. TMZ was first to report news of the lawsuit.
The incident occurred in Provo, Utah in June 2020. According to Wittek, the stunt was a part of Dobrik’s so-called “social media comeback.” The ex-Vlog squad-er claims that the original plan was to have members of Dobrik’s crew ride various objects such as wakeboards while being swung around by a rope attached to an excavator they had planted in a lake. Wittek alleges that Dobrik changed the plan and wanted everyone to be swung from a rope tied to the giant piece of construction equipment without riding any objects.
In court documents, Wittek goes on to recount how when it was his turn to be flung around, Dobrik started moving the excavator at “unsafe speeds” and slowed it down too quickly, leading Wittek to slam into the side of the machine and suffer “a myriad of injuries.”
Video of the stunt gone awry was posted on YouTube in April 2021 but has since been deleted. Other accounts captured the footage before it was taken down and have reposted it.
ET Canada has reached out to Dobrik’s rep for a comment but have not heard back.
Wittek has shared some of his recovery journey on social media. In February, he revealed that he’d had his ninth surgery because of the incident and still had one more ahead of him. “Finally got one of these damn plates out of my eye!” he captioned a post-op photo on Instagram.
Once a close friend of Dobrik’s, Wittek says the two are no longer on speaking terms. In March, he went on his “Jeff FM” podcast and alleged Dobrik didn’t reach out to him in the aftermath of the horrific accident.
“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 the YouTuber.
“I woke up from surgery. A day goes by, no text for him. Another day goes by, no text. I look at his Instagram because it’s the first one that always f—ing pops up because the algorithm or whatever. It’s just him like, ‘Oh, I’m so happy with my life right now. My vlogs and everything,’ just promoting his vlog,” he added. “I was just like, you got time to do this but you can’t text me and be like, ‘Hey, did you go blind or not from my actions?’ I just want to f—ing tell the truth, finally. I gave this motherf— so many chances. Even now, a week later, I still haven’t heard a peep.”
Calling Dobrik a “scumbag friend”, Wittek continued, “Imagine you smash somebody’s skull in, they take it on the chin, they don’t sue you, they don’t f—ing 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 f—ing 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.”
For his part, Dobrik has publicly stated that he regrets what happened but that the stunt was Wittek’s idea. “The Jeff thing is the f—ing worst,” Dobrik said on his “VIEWS” podcast in March. “That day is the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. I would f—ing do anything to take that day back.”
“I wish it was me up there,” he added. “It’s the most unfortunate thing ever. And it’s a s—ty — it’s an accident. That’s what it was. It’s an accident.”
Of Wittek’s involvement in the stunt, Dobrik said, “I think one of the main reasons Jeff is bummed with me right now is because he saw me do an interview where I said something that I promised him I’d keep between us. He’s pissed that I broke a promise.”
Dobrik claims that Wittek asked him to promise to never tell anyone that the stunt was his idea. “He’s like, ‘Can you promise me one thing? Can you just promise that no one ever knows that this was my idea?’” Dobrik said, recalling an alleged conversation with Wittek.
“[Jeff] got hurt because I was driving,” the YouTuber continued. “That’s it, and I f—ing 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.”