Standup Paddlers Rescue Hot Air Balloon

Talk about a marriage proposal gone wrong. On the evening of Sunday, October 5, 2014, with hundreds of beach-goers lining the shore of San Diego’s Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Eric Barretto was flying high, proposing to his girlfriend during their sunset hot air balloon ride. But all of a sudden, the romantic moment turned disastrous when the hot air balloon took an abrupt turn toward the ocean.

The Panda Air Bear Balloon Flights pilot told NBC San Diego he thought the best course of action would be to let winds push the hot air balloon west to the water so onshore winds could push them back.

Instead, the hot air balloon took a plunge into the Pacific, directly into the crowded surf lineup. Standup paddlers surfing nearby paddled over to aid the hot air balloon, which continued to take dips into the water.

With the help of the standup paddlers, surfers, and lifeguards, the hot air balloon and its passengers were able to get to shore safely.

“It’s unforgettable. That’s all I can say,” Barretto told NBC San Diego. “I don’t know if we’ll do it again.”

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