A blimp has caught fire and crashed near the US Open course the Erin Hills in Wisconsin. The pilot of the blimp sustained injuries in the incident which happened at around 11 a.m. on Thursday during the first round of the annual golf championship.
Amateur videos and photos of the blimp crashing to the ground have been making rounds on social media. Images show a cloud of smoke from the blimp near the course where the season’s second major was underway.
According to initial reports, the blimp was taking aerial shots of the course when the incident happened. However, US Open officials have distanced themselves from the blimp.
According to a tweet by the organizers of the US Open, USGA, the commercial blimp was not linked with the U.S. Open or with sponsors FOX Sports. The tweet also revealed that the pilot sustained injuries and that emergency officials were on the scene dealing with the situation.
“A blimp unaffiliated with the US Open or [host channel] Fox Sports has crashed near Erin Hills. Pilot was injured and first responders are on the scene. Our thoughts and prayers are with those were injured,” an official statement from USGA said.
It is still unclear how many people were in the blimp when the incident occurred. However, a witness named Madison Seigworth, who took a video of the accident, said people were jumping out of the blimp with parachutes. According to NY Post, Seigworth can be heard saying people fled the burning blimp with parachutes.
A local TV channel interviewed a witness named Adam Johnson on Twitter who supported what the other witness said, the Telegraph reported. Johnson also said that the pilot jumped out of the blimp with a parachute.
“We were watching a group finish on 18 and beyond the green we saw the blimp falling. It appears the pilot parachuted out,” Johnson, who was watching the game, said. “There is smoke rising from the site.”
Officials are yet to announce the details of the blimp’s accident. However, there are reports that the front of the blimp was deflated before it caught fire.
The extent of the pilot’s injuries is still unclear at the moment. However, the Guardian reported that the blimp’s pilot sustained burns and was receiving treatment from emergency workers who responded to the crash.
ESPN Sports columnist Ian O’ Connor posted a photo of a victim of the blimp crash being carried on a stretcher. According to O’Connor, Patrick Walsh, the CEO of AirSign, has revealed that the name of the pilot if Trevor Thompson and he is one of the best blimp pilots in the country.
The blimp was reportedly sponsored by Penfed, a banking firm, whose name and logo it carried on its body. Penfed is yet to release a statement on the blimp’s accident.
The blimp reportedly fell near two major highways on a property. A Twitter user named Alex Grimm claims that the blimp crashed on his grandmother’s farm.
[Featured Image by Charlie Riedel/AP Photo]