As many as 20 people were injured Monday morning after three hot air balloons lost control and crashed in a field at a popular Wyoming tourist destination, investigators said.
Passenger Clinton Phillips was in a balloon that was carrying about 20 people, including his wife and three children. Phillips said passengers tried to prevent themselves from falling out after winds appeared to shift. He described the crash as “terrifying.”
“I couldn’t believe how beautiful everything was,” Phillips told the Jackson Hole Daily. “And then we were in hell a few minutes later. It was crazy.”
“It was a pretty traumatic experience,” Phillips continued. He said his children suffered minor injures and he believes his wife’s ribs may have been broken.
Another balloon that was carrying 12-year-old Robert Krayevski and his family reportedly skidded across a field before crashing into a fence.
“Our captain fell off while we were in it,” Krayevski told the paper. “We bounced and went back up in the air by ourselves. The captain was yelling to pull the red ropes. We tipped over, and we had to get out because of possible fire. I got out, and people were laying on the ground hurt.”
Police received an emergency call at 8:13 a.m. before rushing to the scene and finding all three balloons and passengers spread out with varying injuries, according to the Teton County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff Matt Carr said between 16 and 20 victims suffering a wide variety of injuries, Idaho Falls’s KIDK reported. At least 11 people were transported to local hospitals.
The incident is under investigation by federal authorities to determine the exact cause of the crash, but weather was said to be a potential factor in causing the three balloons to go down near Jackson Hole. They did not collide with each other.
All three balloons belonged to the Wyoming Balloon Co., Carr told the Jackson Hole Daily.