search

‘Makes me shudder’: Man photographed hot air balloon operator before fatal fall

Resident of northern Israel says he thought Yogev Cohen was ‘doing tricks’ when he snapped a photo of Cohen hanging on the outside of the aircraft

The scene where a man fell to his death from a hot air balloon near Afula, northern Israel, October 19, 2021(Meir Vaknin/Flash90)
The scene where a man fell to his death from a hot air balloon near Afula, northern Israel, October 19, 2021(Meir Vaknin/Flash90)

As Asher Amar headed to work on Tuesday morning, he snapped a photo of a hot air balloon in the sky, a common sight near his home in northern Israel.

He noticed that a man — later identified as Yogev Cohen, 28, of Kibbutz Yizre’el — was hanging on the outside of the balloon, but he did not initially think much of it.

Only later did he realize that Cohen died after falling from the balloon onto a moving car on Route 60 near Afula.

“I saw the guy, but I thought it was part of the attraction — that he was doing tricks,” Amar told the Ynet news site. “Only when I got to work did I understand that he was killed and I filmed his last moments. It’s painful.”

Amar recalled sending the picture to his colleagues at work with the caption, “good day.”

“It really makes me shudder,” he said.

According to police, Cohen, a member of the hot air balloon crew, was hanging on a cable on the outside of the aircraft during takeoff. The operators of the hot air balloon noticed that Cohen was hanging off the side but the airship rose too quickly for them to stop it, the Walla news site reported.

The owner of the company that operates the hot air balloon said it remained unclear why Cohen was hanging on the outside.

“That wasn’t supposed to happen,” Amir Almog told Ynet. He said the pilot of the aircraft tried to land while Cohen was still hanging on, but power lines obstructed the landing.

“Ultimately he fell when the balloon was at a height of 40-50 meters,” Almog said. He added that Cohen had started working at the hot-air balloon company three months ago.

Shari Vermont, who was aboard the vessel when Cohen fell, said she had long wanted to ride a hot air balloon and came to celebrate her birthday.

“Near me was a couple with their son, and the adult tried to pull the rope to save him, but he didn’t succeed,” she told Channel 12 news.

“The balloon was blown in the direction of the highway. I understand that he didn’t want to bring the balloon down on the road so as not to strike the cars,” she added. “At a certain point he tried to maneuver himself and land but before that he fell. I was in shock.”

Police opened an investigation earlier Tuesday and said it was “unknown” why Cohen was hanging on the balloon.

According to Ynet, the incident will also be investigated by the Civil Aviation Authority. The site noted that there were no warnings of unusual activity in the skies, and the weather was not thought to be problematic at the time of the incident.

read more:
comments
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed