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Rogue hot air balloon takes Utahns for unexpected ride

Published February 11, 2012 5:31 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A rogue hot air balloon took about a dozen people on an extremely memorable, but unexpected free ride Saturday.

Cottonwood Heights police said the balloon's pilot had just taken off from the Draper area when he decided for whatever reason to make an unscheduled landing about 10:30 a.m. in the Pei Wei parking lot near the 1100 block of East Fort Union Boulevard.

Several bystanders watched as the man narrowly missed striking some power lines and hitting some shops, then saw it land hard in the parking lot. The bystanders grabbed onto ropes dangling from the basket to try to keep it on the ground. However, the balloon had other ideas and dragged the good Samaritans through the parking lot and into oncoming Fort Union Boulevard traffic.

Eventually, about 10 bystanders were able to wrestle the balloon down to the ground in a parking lot where the pilot quickly deflated it and packed it up without further incident, police said.

No one was injured, police said, crediting the bystanders with saving the day.

jstecklein@sltrib.com

Twitter @sltribjanelle