Tragedy in Israel: 28-year-old dies in a hot-air balloon accident

The victim, 28-year-old Yogev Cohen, was not even meant to be on the hot-air balloon that morning. 

By Tobias Siegal, World Israel News

A 28-year-old Israeli died on Tuesday morning after falling from a hot-air balloon over Highway 60 in northern Israel, Magen David Adom (MDA) reported.

Yogev Cohen, originally from Kibbutz Yizrael, was one of the crew members operating the hot-air balloon. Upon lift-off, he attached himself to the outside of the hot-air balloon and fell off from a high distance, crashing into a moving vehicle on the highway.

An initial investigation into the unusual accident has revealed that Cohen was not even meant to be on the hot-air balloon this morning. Instead, he was in charge of preparing the equipment and making sure lift-off goes as planned by evenly distributing the basket’s weight.

But for reasons still unknown, Cohen grabbed handles attached to the basket and did not let go during lift-off.

“He was hanging from the lower part of the basket, which never happens,” the owner of the hot-air balloon company, Almog Meir, told police.

“By the time the pilot noticed, [Cohen] was already seven meters above ground,” he added. “Everyone was shouting and telling him to jump off but he said ‘I’m not going to jump, I can hold on.’ The pilot lowered [the balloon] … but at some point [Cohen] couldn’t hold on anymore and fell,” Meir said.

First responder, MDA paramedic Maor Etedgi, said that Cohen was found unconscious in the middle of the highway, while suffering from a multi-system injury. When resuscitation efforts failed, paramedics pronounced his death at the scene.

“About 150 meters from there, we saw a damaged vehicle,” Etedgi said, referring to the vehicle Cohen crashed on after losing his grip. “Its passengers did not require medical treatment,” he said.