The Phoenix Reporter and Item (http://www.phoenixvillenews.com)

Coroner: East Pikeland balloonist died from neck injury


By Frank Otto, fotto@21st-CenturyMedia.com

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

EAST PIKELAND — The hot air balloon pilot who died Sunday morning was killed by a neck injury sustained in the course of falling out of the balloon’s basket, according to the Chester County Coroner’s Office.

An autopsy Tuesday confirmed that Jeffrey Hooten, a balloonist from Albuquerque, New Mexico, died of an injury he sustained to his neck.

The manner of death was ruled “accidental,” according to a spokesperson with the coroner’s office.

East Pikeland Police said Hooten was coming in for a landing around 7:20 a.m. in a field near the intersection of Hunsberger Road and South Wall Street. As a part of normal landing procedure, a hot air balloon’s pilot must pull a rope which “deflates the balloon,” according to police.

In the course of reaching for that rope, “he fell from the balloon and got caught between the balloon basket and the ground,” a police release said Monday.

Hooten later died at Phoenixville Hospital.

Riders in the balloon with Hooten believed he might have had a heart attack, which contributed to his death.

The autopsy showed no trace of a heart attack, according to the coroner’s office spokesperson.

Follow Frank Otto on Twitter @fottojourno.