Video Captures Hot Air Balloon Crashing Into Terrified Missouri Crowd

click to enlarge Video Captures Hot Air Balloon Crashing Into Terrified Missouri Crowd
Those celebrating the 200th birthday of Hannibal, Missouri, this weekend found themselves dealing with a traumatic event that could well be talked about for two centuries — a hot air balloon smashing into the crowd.

The terrifying scene was captured on video by multiple bystanders, showing the moments in which a crowd of balloon watchers went from exuberant to horrified as the as the craft's basket dipped into the mass of people sitting on lawn chairs and picnic blankets.

Only one minor injury was initially reported — and, perhaps as a result, initial coverage focused on the "wow" factor. (Good Morning America led off its story on June 23 with the lack of injuries.) However, KHQA-TV (Channel 7) now reports that a bystander to the crash — described in the story as a "young girl" — was struck by the hot air balloon and, according to her brother, a fellow bystander, was hospitalized with a concussion and "serious spinal injury."

It's not clear if that injury was recorded in the viral videos of the incident, which by now have been featured in multiple national news sites. In one video, the hot air balloon is seen making its slow approach toward a cheering crowd. About thirteen seconds in, people start screaming and scattering as the basket hits the grass, flipping almost entirely on its side as two occupants somehow manage to hold on and avoid ejection.

One of those occupants, Christina Smith, also spoke to& KHQA about the crash, telling the station "the air just grabbed us and pulled us down," and that the hot air balloon's pilot "started yelling get out of the way, get out of the way, get out of the way."

"I didn't think we were actually going to hit the ground," Smith added. "I just thought he would just going to scoot over the top of the people."

It's worth noting that KHQA's new report of a serious injury appears to conflict with an earlier story filed by the station's Chad Davis. In that story, published just hours after the crash on Saturday, Davis reported that although an ambulance and fire truck had been witnessed on the scene, the situation didn't pose a serious medical emergency. Davis continued, "We spoke to a Marion County dispatch, who says the 'all-clear' was given early on and said police didn't need to respond as this was just a minor incident."

We've reached out to Marion-Lewis County Emergency Services with a request for comment on the incident, and we'll update this story if we hear back.

Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at
@D_Towski. E-mail the author at [email protected]
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