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Investigators Look At A Rash Of Balloon Accidents In Colorado

Gusty Winds Saturday May Have Been A Factor In As Many As Four Incidents

Local and federal authorities in Colorado are looking at a series of four unrelated balloon accidents Saturday which resulted in injuries to five people. The common thread that seems to be running through the incidents is gusty winds that blew through the area.

The four accidents all occurred in about a 90 minute time frame and within a few miles of each other. In one accident, about a dozen people were riding in a balloon at about 9:00 am local time which came down in a field southeast of Boulder. The basket of the balloon was dragged about 50 yards, and two women were taken to a hospital after mentioning possible neck and back injuries.

The balloon's pilot said the incident was not a crash, but rather a "high wind landing."  Pilot Jeff Meeker of Boulder-based Fair Winds Hot Air Balloon Flights said the field was his best potential landing spot, and that the first 45 minutes of the flight had been "absolutely gorgeous."

A few minutes before Meeker put his balloon on the ground, another aircraft operated by a different company went down in the Rocky Flats area south of Boulder. Of the 11 people aboard, one person reportedly suffered an ankle injury, according to the Associated Press.

A third balloon hit power lines which ignited a small brush fire about 8:00 am near Arvada. One of the three people on board suffered a minor injury.

The fourth accident occurred near Louisville, CO. The pilot of that balloon cut his wrist as the aircraft went down in a vacant industrial park about 7:45 am. That aircraft had five passengers on board, and none reportedly were injured.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov

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