Dallas ISD teacher helps save pilots after crashing gas balloon

A Dallas ISD English teacher was in the right place when a sport balloon in the Gordon Bennett Race crashed in Kaufman County and caught fire. 

The balloon was carrying two experienced pilots from Poland, who are both now recovering at Parkland Hospital. 

Israel Alfaro, a Dallas ISD English teacher at Adamson High School was headed to his sister's house in Crandall when he first saw the sport balloon overhead. 

"I realized they were coming down really fast and tearing the sandbags," Alfaro recalled. "You could see the sand dropping, and they were coming down way too fast. As I turned the corner, they had landed in the power cords. Everything was engulfed in flames in the blink of an eye."

On board the hydrogen gas aircraft were two pilots from Poland. Two people nearby helped the first pilot to get out, but the second was too badly injured to escape.

"You looked in the basket and could barely see because of the flames and the smoke," Alfaro said. "The gentleman in the basket couldn't help us with his weight because his legs were broken. When we pulled him out, we had to drag him through some of the fire." 


Gas balloon in race across nation crashes into power station near Crandall, 2 injured

A gas balloon crashed near Crandall on Monday night after it hit a power station and exploded.

The pilots were taking part in the 66th Gordon Bennett Cup, a prestigious gas balloon race. 

Tom Garrity, the race spokesman said both pilots are recovering at Parkland Hospital. 

The lead pilot, Krzystotf Zapart, sustained cuts and burns on his legs and arms. Pjotr Halas is being treated for more serious burns and broken bones in his legs and midsection. 

"Both of these pilots are very experienced in gas ballooning, and we obviously are hoping for their quick recovery," Garrity said.

The race began at 7:30 p.m. in New Mexico with 17 other balloons.

FOX 4 viewers contacted us when they saw what was likely the Poland team's balloon flying overhead on Monday afternoon.

Garrity said it is unclear what caused the crash.

"They were in the midst of a steady descent, which is typical of that time of day," he said. "And then something happens as a part of that descent, which authorities and all of us are going to be very interested to find out what happened."