Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Mysteries of Accidents 2006

On Wednesday morning, I decided to ride my bike along the Thompson Fence Line, a hilly pedestrian/bike path that follows the ridge above the community I live in.  Coming down from the top of one of the steeper and longer hills, I came upon eight police cars, lights flashing, with yellow caution tape blocking both my trail and the road which ran alongside it.  The basket of one of the hot air balloons that had been filling our skies all week was being dragged through the dirt and over a chamisa bush by the winch line of a tow truck.  I glanced up.  A power line stood directly above us.  Something was clearly not right.

I've learned not to question police about anything, so I watched and waited until the basket was safely in the back of the tow truck, then asked permission to ride on, passing  the police cars and the tow truck as I continued on my hilly ride.  On the way back, at the site of the downed basket, a man walked in small circles, moving the loose soil with his foot.  I stopped my bike and asked him if he knew what had happened.  Here's what he told me: "The Balloon got caught in the power line.  The sandbag on the side got stuck over the wire and one of the guys in the balloon reached out to free it and got electrocuted.  It was pretty bad.  Then the basket came down and we all went over to help.  We dragged out the pilot, and the guy who got shocked, and he was all stiff like, burned up and down his face and chest, but, alive.  Then the balloon caught on on fire, so we put it out with dirt and so forth.  So we called 911 and the ambulance came and took them away, and the whole chase crew took off after them.  Just up and left the balloon here so the police came and took care of it all".
"Oh my god" I said, "And you were just watching?"
"Yeah.  We were just standing on the hill there watching and then this all happened.  It was terrible.  I don't know if that guy is going to live or not".
I remembered that, as I sat at my kitchen table reading earlier that morning, the power had gone off for several minutes, and I knew that it had to have been from the hot air balloon hitting the power line.  The next day, the news carried a photo and story of the fiery accident.  Later, I learned that the man who had been so badly electrocuted had lost his arm, but was alive.

1 comment:

  1. Holy smoke, Holly: takes my breath away...that life-changing-in-an-instant thing...definitely "the mystery of accidents."


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