ASHLAND — A 74-year-old male hot air balloon pilot died at the hospital Friday night following an accident just after landing around 8 p.m.
The incident occurred shortly after the hot air balloon landed in a field on the 100 block of Eastlake Drive during the annual Ashland Balloonfest hot air balloon festival.
“During disassembly of the balloon the pilot hit his head on the burners, sustaining a fatal injury,” Ashland Balloonfest committee president Mindi Cantrell said in a press release.
The 74-year-old man was unresponsive and was considered to be in traumatic cardiac arrest when he was taken to University Hospitals Samaritan Hospital, according to Ashland Fire Capt. Ken Gardner.
Ashland Balloonfest officials confirmed shortly before 10 p.m. that the man had died at the hospital.
Officials at the scene referred to the deceased as a passenger in the balloon and indicated he was teaching another man to fly the balloon.
In an emailed statement to media, and later by phone, Balloonfest committee president Mindi Cantrell referred to the deceased as the balloon’s pilot.
Cantrell said no other information would be released Friday evening and stated a press conference likely will be issued Saturday.
Around midnight Saturday, Ashland Balloonfest announced on Facebook its Saturday morning balloon flight would be cancelled.
The Ashland Post of Ohio Highway Patrol was investigating at the scene, and Balloonfest officials say the FAA was on scene as well and completed an initial investigation. Ashland Police assisted at the scene.