One person was injured in a hot-air balloon mishap at the Chatsworth sesquicentennial celebration Thursday evening, but the balloon landed safely a short distance away.
Four balloons were preparing to launch shortly before 6:30 p.m. when the incident occurred. Witnesses said the wind was calm before the accident.
Livingston County Sheriff Tony Childress (Chill-dress) said Friday, “Apparently, there was a wind gust that caused one balloon to lift up.” The basket tipped and the pilot fell out.
The pilot was transported to OSF St. Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington. The injury was not life-threatening.
Mayor Richard Runyon, who was at opening ceremonies said, “Luckily they knew enough to go past the power lines and out of town before pulling the rope” to bring down the balloon.
One witness, Wayne Germain of Pontiac shot video as the drama unfolded.
He said “It was frightening,” Out of nowhere, a gust of wind came — 20 mph at least,” he said. “Twenty seconds later, it was calm again.”
His video of the incident quickly went viral on the internet, receiving more than 100,000 views on Facebook, in addition to being shown on various television outlets.
Germain said he has received calls “from around the world” from people involved in hot-air ballooning who want to use his video for educational and training purposes and he is happy to share it.
• Activities continue today and Sunday at the Chatsworth celebration.