A commercial blimp not affiliated with the USGA or U.S. Open broadcast crashed Thursday morning near Erin Hills during the first round, according to local authorities.
Video from spectators shows a cloud of smoke and someone using a parachute to escape the burning blimp. The pilot was the only one involved in the incident, and he was being treated for unknown injuries, authorities said.
— madison seigworth (@msiggyy) June 15, 2017
“The Washington County Sheriff’s Office is currently investigating the crash of an advertising blimp east of the 2017 U.S. Open Golf event grounds,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement. “The blimp went down in an open field in the Town of Erin. First responders are on scene for rescue operations and Flight for Life has been summoned to the scene for the pilot. The Sheriff’s Office will release more information as soon as we can.”
Several players could see the blimp during their rounds, including Charley Hoffman.
“I saw it happen. I was sitting on (No.) 7 tee and my caddie goes, look at that thing just blew up,” Hoffman said. “And it was going down through the air. I didn’t see it explode, but it definitely had just happened when he tapped me on the shoulder. So I saw it fluttering down through the sky.”
The USGA released the following statement:
“According to local authorities, a commercial blimp not affiliated with the USGA or the U.S. Open Championship broadcast crashed in an open field approximately a half mile from the Erin Hills golf course at approximately 11:15 a.m. CDT. … Our thoughts and prayers are with the pilot at this time.”
Ron Green Jr. contributed.