Join Riverfront Times Press Club. Because No News is Bad News.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Video Captures Hot Air Balloon Crashing Into Terrified Missouri Crowd

Posted By on Mon, Jun 24, 2019 at 12:08 PM

click to enlarge SCREENSHOT VIA NBC
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
  • Sign up for our weekly newsletters to get the latest on the news, things to do and places to eat delivered right to your inbox.
  • Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Tags: , ,

Riverfront Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of St. Louis and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep St. Louis' true free press free.

Read the Digital Print Issue

November 25, 2020

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In St. Louis

© 2020 Riverfront Times

Website powered by Foundation