Man dies after falling from hot air balloon over Melbourne suburb in Australia  


A man has died after falling from a hot air balloon over a quiet residential suburb of Melbourne in the state of Victoria, Australia. The balloon was reportedly flying over Albert Street in the suburb of Preston, in the city’s northeast at the time of the incident, which occurred at around 07:30 on March 19, 2024. 

Emergency responders were quickly on the scene called after reports that a male passenger had fallen from the balloon’s basket while it drifted over the area. Melbourne Police have since revealed that accident investigators are not treating the death as suspicious, believing it to be a ‘self-harm’ incident.  

A spokesperson for the National Commercial Hot Air Ballooning Industry and Australian Ballooning Federation confirmed to local media outlets that the “traumatized” passengers and pilot who were also on board the balloon at the time will be offered counseling in the wake of the incident.   

“Hot air balloon baskets are designed with safety in mind, specifically to prevent passengers from falling out accidentally or from any accidental exit,” said a Federation spokesperson. “As this matter is now subject to investigations by Victoria Police, WorkSafe Victoria, Air Transport Safety Bureau, and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) it is not appropriate to comment further.” 

The male victim is believed to have landed in the street beneath the balloon, which was cordoned off following the fall. The passenger died at the scene, according to the emergency services who attended the incident. Following the fall, the balloon made an emergency landing in Melbourne’s Yarra Bend Park.  

Authorities have questioned the remaining occupants in the balloon and other witnesses to determine the circumstances surrounding the incident, Victoria Police said in a statement. In local television coverage of the incident, power lines could be seen strewn across the road while a white sheet was laid on one of the footpaths. 

A resident told local reporters that he heard a “loud bang” before the sound of sirens filled the suburban street. Once Melbourne police have completed their inquiries, they are expected to file a report for the local coroner who is likely to order an inquest into the incident.  

Penny Pragnall / BalloonMan

Several air balloon operators run sunrise flights over Melbourne during the summer months. Such operators tend to operate larger commercial-scale craft with baskets that can accommodate up to 16 passengers at any one time. The balloon in question was operated by Balloon Man which offers flight experiences from AUD458 ($298) and whose website states:  

“Melbourne has so many landmarks to discover from the air including the Yarra River, MCG, Eureka Tower, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Westgate Bridge, the famous Brighton bathing boxes and so much more. Come on a spectacular hot air balloon Melbourne ride with us. 

“From the vantage point of a wicker basket, you see the city laid out in miniature, the view is not static, and we’re moving with the wind so the panorama you enjoy is constantly changing. Our unrivaled experience enables us to provide you with a personalized service, with an emphasis on safety and attention to detail.” 

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