SPORTS

US Open: Blimp flying near golf tournament crashes

A blimp flying near the U.S. Open golf tournament in Wisconsin crashed Thursday, sending a plume of smoke up into the air as its pilot was rushed to a hospital.

Videos circulating on social media showed pros who were warming up at the Erin Hills golf course pointing at the blimp as it tumbled out of the sky.

The blimp crashed in an open field about half a mile away from the course.

"The pilot, the only occupant of the aircraft, sustained serious injuries as a result of the crash and was medically transported via Flight for Life with serious burns and injuries," the Washington County Sheriff's Office said in a statement. "The initial investigation reveals the blimp may have experienced mechanical problems prior to the crash."

A representative from AirSign -- the owners of the blimp -- offered a differing report, telling Fox News that the pilot did not sustain serious injuries and is expected to be OK.

The company, which describes itself as a "national aerial advertising firm," added that it was investigating the incident.

Another representative told The Associated Press that they could not confirm witness reports that the pilot skydived from the blimp, adding that the aircraft's operators don't usually carry parachutes.

The sheriff's office said the blimp had been flying for several hours and had been in contact with FAA officials, who determined that it was lawfully operating at the proper altitude. 

"Our thoughts and prayers are with those who were injured," the tournament posted on its Twitter account

A photo on social media showed a person being carried away on a stretcher from the apparent crash scene.

The tournament – which is being held at the Erin course through Sunday – is one of golf's four majors and a marquee event on the PGA Tour. 

Fox News' Greg Norman contributed to this report.