‘It was a hard hit’ -- Louisville woman describes Nevada hot air balloon crash

Louisville couple back home after hot air balloon crash in Las Vegas
Tom and Shawna Stenton, from Louisville, were among several people injured in a hot air balloon crash last week in Las Vegas.
Tom and Shawna Stenton, from Louisville, were among several people injured in a hot air balloon crash last week in Las Vegas. (Source: The Stentons)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A local couple injured in a hot air balloon crash just outside of Las Vegas returned to Louisville on Thursday.

Tom and Shawna Stenton were on a trip to Las Vegas last week when they took a sight-seeing hot air balloon tour on the first full day of their trip.

“This was our first time on a hot air balloon, so we had no idea what to expect, and so we really didn’t know anything was going wrong until it went wrong,” Shawna described.

She said the balloon went down and no one seems to know why.

“It was a hard hit,” Shawna said.

The pilot and others were ejected. The couple and two others were still in the gondola as it dragged extremely fast.

“If my husband had not grabbed those ropes after the pilot was ejected, we wouldn’t be here right now,” Shawna said. “It would be a very different situation.”

They were ejected from the gondola and Tom called 911. It took about an hour and 45 minutes for rescue crews to get to them.

“I’m just grateful (my husband) had the wherewithal to pay attention to what the pilot was doing throughout the entire flight, and then after that, he was quick enough to grab the correct ropes to land us on the ground,” Shawna said.

Tom and Shawna flew from Las Vegas back to Louisville on Thursday afternoon, after several days in and out of the hospital.

“My husband and I have five broken bones, ligament damage, a collapsed lung,” Shawna said. “I mean all kinds of horrible things.”

The two reunited with friends at the airport, with hugs and tears, expressing how grateful they are to be home.

“I mean it’s been terrifying,” Shawna said about the past week. “It’s felt like one setback after another that got us to this point. But we’re here. That’s all that matters, and we’re ready to go home and see our son.”

Several agencies are investigating the crash.

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