Dramatic Rescue As Hot Air Balloon Crashes Into Surf [Video]

Another romantic marriage proposal went wrong as a hot air balloon ride went dangerously wrong near San Diego while the sun set on Sunday evening.

Eric Barretto was proposing to Jennilyn Buenaventura Garcia as the hot air balloon floated down the coastline. Just as she said yes, the balloon veered over the water and the pilot could not get the balloon back to shore.

Hundreds of people on the beach near Cardiff-by-the-Sea watched as the hot air balloon crashed into the ocean.

Matt Lawson, a bystander on the beach, said that he initially did not know that the pilot and passengers were in trouble.

“We all just thought that, you know, they were just having some fun, just getting their passengers close to the water,” said Lawson. “Someone dropped a rope out of the balloon, and all of the surfers started piling over.”

Surfers held the hot air balloon’s messenger line and prevented the craft from drifting further out to sea until Encinitas lifeguards could arrive. ABC News reports that Encinitas Marine Safety Capt. Larry Giles indicated that the surfers and others pulled the balloon as close to the shore as possible. The basket landed in the surf and took in several waves.

“Between the lifeguards and the bystanders in the water, the surfers here at Cardiff reef, everyone did a great job and they got the balloon back up onto the beach without injury,” Giles said.

Cellphone video showed the newly engaged couple jump out of the hot air balloon basket into the waves. The pilot stayed with the balloon and kept it inflated while it was towed up onto the beach.

The balloon was operated by Panda Air Bear Balloon Flights. The pilot, identified as Tim, told NBC San Diego that strong winds caused the balloon to be pushed off course westwards, leaving him no choice but to attempt to either use onshore winds to push them back or to ditch in the water. The pilot says that in his 12 years of flying, this was a first.

“I’m a retired marine. A lot of those skills are transferable,” he explained.

Another witness to the emergency landing, Mark Burnz, said, “Yeah this is pretty crazy. It was pretty wild. We just talked to the hot air balloon people. They’re really great people. They take safety very seriously, and for whatever reason, the atmosphere conditions changed and took them over the water.”

Speaking with the press after the hot air balloon crash, the soon to be married Barretto said, “It’s unforgettable. That’s all I can say. I don’t know if we’ll do it again.”