Chuck Rohr, the 73 year old founder of Rohr Balloons, remained calm as the Hot Air Balloon he was piloting drifted into power lines yesterday east of Eustis, FL. “I felt I had it under control,” he told reporters. “If I had panicked something major could have happened.”
One of the passengers aboard the balloon burned the back of his hand and was taken to Florida Hospital Waterman in Tavares for treatment. Rohr and the other passenger were not injured . The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the cause of the of the accident.
Rohr claimed that trees near his warehouse, where he was attempting to land, blocked his view of the power lines and lead to his striking them with the balloon’s basket. His balloon “chaser,” 16 year-old Rhett Whitfield saw the accident occur and stated, “There was a bunch of lightning shocks coming off the balloon. It was pretty scary. I didn’t know what was happening.”
A neighbor to the business, Terry Benton, said he heard what, “sounded like a loud roaring noise,” as he was walking his dog at the time of the incident. He didn’t see the collision, but power to his home was disrupted for about 30 minutes.
Rhett was able the assist Rohr in safely landing the balloon, and the injured passenger was taken for treatment. Rohr has been flying hot-air balloons with his business for more than 40 years and opened his Lake County branch around 10 years ago when he moved to the area.
Throughout those 40 years, Rohr said he’s successfully landed balloons in many dangerous situations including strong winds and even thunderstorms. Looking back on today’s incident, Rohr stated that he should’ve been flying higher in order to prevent hitting the power lines.
“You get to thinking that it can’t happen to you because you’ve been doing it so long,” he said, “but accidents can happen to anybody.”
This shows that even with nearly half a century of experience, mistakes can be made and harm can come to customers of any of the tourist attractions in Central Florida. Regardless of the training and the history an operator has, things still go wrong, and mistakes can be made.
If you or someone you know has been harmed while visiting an attraction in or around Orlando, please contact us and let us know the details of the incident. We can review your case and let you know what kind of compensation you can expect.
Wooten Kimbrough, P.A. Orlando Tourist Injury Attorneys