Hot air balloon operator caught on film falling to his death

A man has plunged to his death from a hot air balloon as onlookers watched on in horror.

Yogev Cohen, 28, was caught on film desperately trying to cling on after the balloon took off with him still hanging on to the basket.

The terrible accident happened in Kibbutz Yizre'el, northern Israel, on Tuesday, reports Haaretz.

Yogev managed to hold on for a few minutes, but before the pilot was able to get the balloon back down he fell more than 100 feet onto a moving car below.

He had worked for balloon operator Lagaat Bashamayim for a few months.

The company said its regulations directed that three ground crew must hold on to a balloon before it is inflated so that it’s stabilised before it takes off.

But for some reason, Yogev didn't let go of the basket after the balloon was inflated, and he was still clinging on to it as it took off.

The footage shows him hanging on as people on the ground desperately try to get the attention of the pilot.

Lagaat Bashamayim owner Almog Amir said he was struggling to come to terms with the tragedy.

"We’re all in shock. He was a great guy," he said.

"[The pilot] tried to land after crossing the road, but the wind brought him back.

"And at some point, Yogev could no longer hold on and fell onto the road from a height of 40 or 50 metres. He hung on to the lower portion of the basket. By the time the pilot noticed this, he was already at a height of 10 or 15 metres."

He added: "I’ve been flying hot air balloons for 20 years, and so far I haven’t been able to understand why he did this.

"They yelled to him from below 'Jump, jump', while he was still near the ground. He said something like 'No, I’m hanging in there,' and then the pilot decided to get lower.

"But there were power lines and he couldn’t do so."

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