Of the 35 people on board the three balloons, 11 were transported to local hospitals and one was transported to a regional trauma center

By Nicholas Rice
August 04, 2020 12:32 PM
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At least a dozen people were hospitalized with injuries following a crash involving three hot air balloons in Wyoming on Monday morning, according to local officials.

The crash occurred just south of Teton Village, and the balloons were found across a stretch of land that was less than half a mile, the Teton County Sheriff's Office said in a statement obtained by NBC News.

Jackson Hole Fire Chief Brady Hansen confirmed to PEOPLE that of the 35 people on board the three balloons, 11 were transported by ambulance to a local hospital, while one was flown by helicopter to a regional trauma center.

Hansen said that an unknown number of additional patients denied ambulance transport, but later sought treatment in the hospital on their own.

Brad Boner/Jackson Hole News&Guide via AP

He said the balloons were "caught in an unexpected wind," and that multiple agencies responded, including those from the local fire department and sheriff's office, and from Teton National Park.

A spokesperson for the Federal Aviation Administration told PEOPLE in a statement that the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the cause of the crash, in which each balloon "landed hard under unknown circumstances."

Hot Air Balloon Crash in Wyoming
Bradly J. Boner/Jackson Hole News & Guide via AP

Andrew Breffeilh, the president of Wyoming Balloon Company, which owns the balloons, said his aircrafts make "high-wind landings" daily when faced with sudden gusts of wind, The New York Times reported.

Breffeilh added that the winds on Monday were "outside the forecast."

"Considering the conditions we were in, there could have been worse results in winds that strong," he told the Times. "The most important thing is to get them down as quickly and safely as possible."

Breffeilh said the incident was the first crash in his company's 31-year history, and that he was "considering a stand-down for some period of time in order to learn from what happened."

He did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

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Clinton Phillips, a Texas resident who was in one of the balloons, told the Jackson Hole News & Guide that his balloon was carrying 20 people when it began "lifting us up and slamming us back down again."

"I couldn't believe how beautiful everything was," he told the newspaper. "And then we were in hell a few minutes later. It was crazy... We were desperately trying not to fall out."

Phillips, who was with his wife Jade and their three children, added: "It was a pretty traumatic experience. My girls are pretty scratched up, and my son might have a concussion, and we think my wife’s ribs are broken."