BURLINGTON, Wis. — A preliminary report released Tuesday details a crash where a hot air balloon hit a train in the City of Burlington earlier this month.
It happened after 8 p.m. near Calumet and Jefferson on June 1. The pilot and two passengers were seriously injured. The report says the balloon was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 92 business flight. Lake Geneva Balloon Company previously said in a statement to TMJ4 that the balloon that crashed was with their company, but was being operated by a “subcontractor pilot.”
According to the report, the conductor on a Canadian National freight train reported the train was traveling northbound when the balloon ran into the train. The conductor immediately put the train into emergency stop. The conductor and engineer were not injured.
The report says the engineer saw the balloon descending and began to slow the train since he did not know where the balloon was going. When he saw the balloon approaching, he applied the emergency brakes. The report says the balloon then landed in the grassy area between the railroad tracks and a street. As the balloon began to lose air, the report says it became limp and started to blow toward the rail cars. That is when the balloon envelope caught on one of the cars, 15 cars back from the engine, and the balloon was then pulled off the ground, the report details. The envelope ripped away from the basket and ascended nearly 200 feet into the air.
The pilot attempted to land and the balloon came to a stop near the tracks and the envelope caught on an empty lumber car, the report continues.
As the envelope tore away from the basket, the three individuals in the basket fell out, a witness reported. The balloon basket was intact and found near the tracks. The envelope was found on the street, about 500 feet north of the basket.
Following the incident, officials with the Burlington Police Department said the three occupants suffered life-threatening injuries. Two of the victims were flown via Flight for Life to Froedtert Hospital.
The three patients transported to the hospital have since been released and are recovering. The passenger list for the flight included:
- Pilot, 62-year-old Jimmy Winder of Bristol
- Passenger, 37-year-old Nikolay Veltchez of Barrington, Illinois
- Passenger, 36-year-old Elena Petrova of Arlington Heights, Illinois
You can read the full report below: