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Hot-air balloon accident, pilot falls from basket during Chatsworth event

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.

94.1 WGFA

• Activities continue today and Sunday at the Chatsworth celebration.

  • Parent Category: News

Fatal traffic crashes in Kankakee, Livingston, Champaign counties

A Louisiana woman died in a single-vehicle rollover crash Thursday evening on I-57 in Kankakee County.

44-year-old Mia Robinson was a passenger in a van driven by 44-year-old McKinley Jenkins of Harvey (IL). Illinois State Police report the driver’s been charged with DUI. Jenkins is also charged with improper lane usage and failure to reduce speed to avoid the accident.

Jenkins was treated for minor injuries.

Police said the accident happened just before 7 pm in the southbound lane of the Interstate near exit 308. The driver lost control, left the road and overturned in a ditch.

In Livingston County --- a Streator woman is dead following a Thursday afternoon crash on Route 17, about a mile west of Route 23. The woman wasn’t identified.

Coroner Danny Watson reports the 22-year-old woman ran into a guard rail. She died about an hour later at a Peoria hospital.

The accident is under investigation by State Police and the Sheriff’s department.

In Champaign County --- a 10-year-old girl died in a multi-car pile-up that closed I-57 for several hours. The girl was a passenger in a vehicle driven by a Mattoon woman. Her cart was rear-ended by another car, pushing her car into a semi tractor-trailer. Police said the vehicles were travelling slowly at the time.

The Champaign County Coroner and sheriff’s department are investigating along with a state police reconstruction team.

94.1 WGFA

  • Parent Category: News

150th Birhtday bashes in Watseka, Chatsworth

Sesquicentennial celebrations are set fopr this weekend in Chatsworth and Watseka.  Opening ceremonies are today (Thursday) in both communiites. 

Several published news articles highlight the rich history of the early beginnings in each of the towns in Livingston and Iroquois counties.  Activities are planned at different sites in the two counties. Maps are available showing visitzors where many of the events are being held.

Watseka's opening ceremony is at 6:3 pm today at Lakeview Park/City Hall on Briana Drive. 

Chatsworth has several events on the agenda including a parade, carnival, car show, hot air balloon launches and trolley tours.

94.1 WGFA

  • Parent Category: News

Hydrant flushing for ERH, Aqua officials

The city of Gilman is busy this week with fire hydrant maintenance. ERH Enterprises has work crews flushing fire hydrants. Local residents may experience discolored water while the system flushes itself out. The work continues thru week’s end.

Aqua Illinois Water Company is also conducting a system-wide hydrant flushing and maintenance program Thursday (6/8). Aqua Illinois serves several east-central Illinois communities, including several in Vermilion County.

The company’s Vermilion Division reports nearly 19-hundred fire hydrants will be flushed and inspected to ensure proper operation. It is expected that it will take about four weeks to complete the inspection of all hydrants in the region.

Decreased water pressure and temporary water discoloration may be routine during the process.

94.1 WGFA

  • Parent Category: News

Special Olympics Torch Run

Illinois State Police and other law enforcement officials are helping to carry the torch for Special Olympics. The annual torch run passes thru Kankakee County today (Wed) on its way to the opening ceremony of the competition in Normal.

The event kicks off Friday in Normal. The Torch Run will make its way on Route 45 at Manteno Road around 1 pm. There will be a police escort.

94.1 WGFA