11/05/2013 11:59 am ET

Hot Air Balloon Crash Fatalities, Injuries Revealed In New Study


Ninety-one people have been seriously injured and five people have died in hot air balloon crashes over a 12-year period, according to a new study.

The study, published in the journal Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine, examines the number of injuries and deaths associated with hot air balloon crashes from 2000 to 2011.

Researchers found that over this time span, there were 78 hot air balloon tour crashes, with 518 occupants being affected by the crashes. More than 80 percent of these crashes resulted in at least one serious injury or fatality.

Most injuries sustained by passengers were broken leg bones. Most crashes occurred when the hot air balloon was landing, with 65 percent of them involving hard landings. Collisions with power lines, trees, buildings and the ground accounted for 50 percent of all the serious injuries and all of the fatalities found in the study.

"Potential strategies for reducing landing forces include cushioning the bottom of the basket or employing crash-worthy auxiliary crew seats during landings," study researcher Susan P. Baker, MPH, ScD, professor and founding director of the Injury Center at Johns Hopkins, said in a statement. "Similarly, the use of restraint systems and the use of mandatory flight helmets could influence crash outcomes."