Golf fans expect catastrophe at the U.S. Open…just not of this variety.
A blimp advertising PenFed Credit Union was circling the U.S. Open venue at Erin Hills during Thursday’s opening round. Unfortunately, the promotional effort backfired when the blimp caught fire and crashed outside the course.
ESPN’s Kevin Van Valkenburg headed to the scene for some on-the-spot reporting. In a series of tweets, he said.
“On the scene at the blimp crash at the US Open. Well outside the gates. Paramedics here tending to someone on a medical guerney. Hard to tell where the blimp actually went down. But the paramedics loaded someone into a Flight For Life just off Terry Road and Rt 83. Highway patrol officer just told us only one person on the blimp and he is conscious and alert right now.”
Barstool Sports’ Fore Play pod approached the crash with their usual tact.
Explosive first day at the US Open pic.twitter.com/G8vdhktX1q
— Fore Play (@ForePlayPod) June 15, 2017
Van Valkenberg also interviewed this guy who witnessed the crash.
16-year-old Hunter Guetkze saw the blimp go down with his dad, describes what happened. pic.twitter.com/P1l32VhVrA
— Kevin Van Valkenburg (@KVanValkenburg) June 15, 2017
Several people captured video of the blimp going down.
— Aaron Dressnandt (@AaronDrez) June 15, 2017
— madison seigworth (@msiggyy) June 15, 2017
— AirSign (@AirSign) June 15, 2017
The USGA released this statement about the crash.
“According to local authorities, a commercial blimp not affiliated with the USGA or the U.S. Open broadcast crashed in an open field approximately a half mile from the Erin Hills Golf Course at approximately 11:15 a.m. CT. First responders were quick to arrive at the scene and the pilot is currently being treated for unknown injuries. No other people were involved in the incident and local law enforcement is currently investigating. Our thoughts and prayers are with the pilot at this time.”
While the blimp crash is a spectacular, enduring image with much potential symbolic import and great source of amusement on social media, it’s best to refrain from making jokes until we know the condition of the pilot who was taken from the scene by helicopter.
And with so many accidents, things could have been much worse had the blimp been hovering the course at the time.