Hot air balloon lands in gator-infested pond near Disney World

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — A hot air balloon carrying 17 people landed in a gator-infested pond near Walt Disney World on Monday.

The Florida Highway Patrol said the pilot was trying to land in a field off of Florida’s turnpike.

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 escaped serious injury. A child swallowed some water upon landing, but he was medically cleared.

It took crews about one hour to remove the 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 said 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 company said it is cooperating with the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.