A blimp crash overshadowed the first day at the US Open golf tournament on the Erin Hills Golf Course. Officials at the event say the pilot of the blimp, which was showing advertisements, has been taken to the hospital.
A blimp shooting aerial images at the US Open golf tournament caught fire and crashed a half mile away from Erin Hills Golf Course.
The pilot parachuted out of the blimp before it crashed. AirSign, the company operating the blimp, said later on Thursday that the pilot was "OK" and was being taken to the hospital to be treated for injuries. The advertising company also confirmed that the pilot was the only person on board.
Several players and spectators witnessed the scenes as they progressed through the opening round of the tournament.
"I was teeing off and I looked up and saw it on fire, and I felt sick to my stomach," American golfer Jamie Lovemark said. "I had the shakes. I felt terrible for the people inside. I didn't know what was going on. It was a horrible sight.
"I hope the guys got out okay. It was a horrific scene. I've never seen a plane crash, blimp crash, anything like that. It was pretty awful."
"I was sitting on the seventh tee and my caddie goes, 'Look at that thing, just blew up.' And it was going down through the air," said Charley Hoffman. "I didn't see it explode, but it definitely just happened when he tapped me on the shoulder. So I saw it fluttering down through the sky."
A statement from the United States Golf Association confirmed details of the crash and said the blimp was not affiliated with the tournament or the US Open broadcast.
"First responders were quick to arrive at the scene and the pilot is currently being treated for unknown injuries," a statement said. "No other people were involved in the incident and local law enforcement is currently investigation.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the pilot at this time."
dv/msh (AP, AFP, Reuters)