A Texas man and his family had their dream vacation turn into a nightmare when a hot air balloon they were riding in crashed at a popular Wyoming tourist destination.
It was one of three balloons — all owned by the same tour operator — that went down separately near Jackson Hole on Monday. They did not crash into each other and no deaths have been reported, but as many as 20 people were injured.
Teton County Sheriff Matt Carr told the Associated Press that the cause of the crash is under investigation and weather may have been a factor.
Clinton Phillips, from Austin, recalled the harrowing moment of the crash and captured the aftermath in videos.
“I couldn’t believe how beautiful everything was,” Phillips told the Jackson Hole News & Guide. “And then we were in hell a few minutes later. It was crazy.”
He told ABC News that he, his wife and their three children were visiting Wyoming and a hot air balloon experience was on their “bucket list.”
The balloon the Phillips family was riding in was the largest that crashed and was holding 20 people, he said. The family saw the other two balloons crash first.
“While we were so busy looking at that, we didn’t realize that we were coming down,” Phillips told ABC News. “Our pilot hadn’t said anything, and I turned around and looked and I shouted, ‘Brace for impact!’”
The balloon tipped over when it crashed and was dragged for about 200 yards, he said.
“People were screaming for their lives and sobbing,” he told the TV network. “It was horrific.”
All three balloons belonged to the Wyoming Balloon Co., Carr said. ABC News reported the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.
At least one person was flown to a hospital in Idaho Falls for treatment.