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Hot air balloon pilot, passengers escape serious injuries after landing in alligator filled pond

ORLANDO, Fla. — A hot air balloon pilot had to make an emergency landing near Disney World on Monday. A statement from Orlando Balloon Rides said a change of wind direction forced the pilot to land in a pond or risk contact with power lines.

The pilot and all 16 passengers on board escaped serious injury. A child did swallow some water upon landing, but he was medically cleared.

It took crews about one hour to remove the hot air balloon from the pond, which happened to be home to some alligators.

A passenger who was on a date with his girlfriend at the time says he’s glad to be alive.

“There was adrenaline — it was pumping. But it was scary. Now we’re making fun of it, but it was serious. It was lucky that no one got hurt,” Sebastian Westerby said.

The pilot is being hailed as a hero for his quick thinking. The company said it is cooperating with the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board investigations.