Sunday 21 January 2018

Tourists scream as hot air balloon lands in alligator-infested pond near Disney World

Alligator stock image
Alligator stock image

Clark Mindock

Seven people are thanking their lucky stars to be alive after a relaxing hot air balloon trip crashed into an alligator-infested pond near Disney World.

In a video capturing the aftermath of the crash, people can be seen screaming as the wicker basket sinks further and further into murky waters in Florida. There were seven people on board the flight, including children, according to reports.

The pilot later said that they weren’t able to land the balloon on land because of shifting winds that made it impossible to move the balloon to safer areas.

“We were excited about this, but it got scary real fast,” one of the passengers later told reporters.

“The balloon tilted. The basket tilted. People got underneath the plastic, and that’s when it got serious,” he continued.

While parts of Florida teem with alligators, fatal attacks aren’t as common as the horror stories might lead one to believe. Still, a dozen or more bites are recorded each year, according to statistics from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

When a two-year-old went missing last year, investigators noted that it is likely the alligator had mistaken the child for a dog or a raccoon, since those are much more frequently victims of gator attacks.

State statistics note that there are frequently years-long stretches in which there are no fatal alligator attacks at all. Between 2015 and 2017,  there were zero fatalities from alligators in the state of Florida.

The deadliest years for alligator fatalities, according to data going back to 1948, were 2001 and 2006. In both of those years, alligator bites claimed the lives of three people.

Smaller bites and injuries, however, are much more common. Since 2010, there have been at least six bites every year, with a high mark occurring in 2013 when 15 people were bitten.

Experts say that staying away from alligators, and refraining from feeding them, is the best way to avoid an alligator bite that could potentially be deadly.

Independent News Service

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