Football player recalls traumatic hot air balloon accident

Earlier this month, the Boston Globe featured an article about the traumatic experience a former Patriots player suffered in a hot air balloon accident in March. The player, Donte Stallworth said he decided to take a friend on the hot air balloon ride as a birthday present because it was on her “bucket list.”

After the takeoff had to be slightly delayed and moved to another location because of winds, the hot air balloon ride consisted of smooth sailing for two hours — that is until it was time to land. At that point, the pilot radioed his crew that the landing location would have to be moved to a nearby farm field.

Once the balloon arrived at the farm field, the pilot told the football player and his friend to drop the anchor over the basket once the balloon had cleared some power lines. Unfortunately, the hot air balloon never cleared the power lines and the next thing Stallworth knew he was hit with an electric jolt, about 1,000 times as painful as any football tackle he had ever experienced.

Stallworth said he believed his wasn’t going to make it when he realized that his arm, lower back and buttocks was on fire. But what was worse than anything, the football player said, was looking over and seeing his friend also on fire. When the basket finally reached the ground, it was still tangled with the power lines and Stallworth finally realized what had happened.

Paramedics finally arrived about 10 to 12 minutes after the landing and took airlifted the football player and his friend to a nearby hospital. The balloon pilot was not injured. Stallworth and his friend both suffered severe burn injuries, but luckily not life-threatening or career-ending injuries.

Although the Boston Globe article didn’t mention a lawsuit, it is likely that the football player and his friend would have personal injury claims against the pilot of the hot and balloon and/or his employer. Even if it was wind that caused the accident, the pilot likely should have known better.

Source:, “Donte’ Stallworth recalls terrifying balloon crash,” Shalise Manza Young, April 4, 2013