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Balloon Accident

Posted August 22, 2012 in Community Featured

A hot air balloon ascenion turned into a fatality in Centerville in 1897.

Aeronaut Killed. Meets Death this Afternoon in Making His Ascension. Lived Only Few Minutes

This headline and the following story are reprinted from the Centerville Daily Citizen, June 5, 1897.

“Aeronaut Walters, who was to make the balloon ascension and parachute jump fell to the ground from a height of 50 feet. The fine weather had brought hundreds of people into the city. The filling of the great canvas bag with smoke and gas, on the vacant lot on the southeast corner of the square attracted the usual crowd of sightseers. Walters adjusted himself in his parachute and fastened in his dog, Nero, attached to a separate parachute. The signal was given, the ropes loosened and the big bag shot upward. At the same moment a puff of wind came up from the southwest and the balloon careened downward and toward the telegraph wires which are strung along the east line of the lot at a height of about 30 feet. The balloon cleared the wires but the parachute which was swinging violently with its human freight was not so fortunate. The balloon by this time was ascending rapidly. For a moment it looked as though Walters would clear the wires but he was caught directly across the shoulders. The balloon gave a tug and swung Walters and his parachute high into the air. The fastening in the bag was not strong enough to hold the strain and the parachute broke loose, dropping the aeronaut to the ground. He fell head first, striking upon the root of the small frame shed, once the city calaboose. Willing hands carried the unfortunate man into Doctor Reynold’s office, and a hurried examination proved the injuries that he had sustained would be fatal. His jaws were broken and he was hurt internally. He was not conscious at any time and lived but 20 minutes.

The dog was not hurt at all. Hundreds of curious people have been passing through Doctor Reynold’s office to look upon the dead man. Walters has made many ascensions before and has taken his dog with him on numerous occasions. He never had had any accident before. The South Centerville ascension was not held to-day and will probably be postponed indefinitely.”

Information submitted by Lisa Eddy, curator, Appanoose County Historical Society, 100 West Maple, Centerville,

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