ANDERSON, S.C. – Authorities say a Michigan man survived after his hot air balloon plunged thousands of feet at a South Carolina festival because the basket caught a tree limb 10 feet before it hit the ground.
Great Southeast Balloon Fest officials say pilot Chuck Walz, of Munith, Mich., broke his leg and pelvis Sunday morning, but has undergone surgery and his recovery is promising.
Anderson Fire Chief Jack Abraham says Walz's balloon may have been 9,000 feet in the air when it deflated.
Abraham says the balloon's basket was skewered by a tree branch 10 feet from ground, stopping its fall. Walz then fell from the basket to the ground. He was conscious when rescuers arrived.
Federal aviation officials are investigating the incident.