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Police considering charges for hot air balloon pilot

Published: Wednesday, June 25, 2014 4:58 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, June 25, 2014 11:06 p.m. CDT

HUNTLEY – The Chief of Huntley police says the department will reconsider potential criminal charges for a hot-air balloon pilot after comments the pilot made in the media.

Police said the incident didn't warrant charges when they were under the impression that an emergency landing brought pilot Chad Morin to rest near the intersection of Windy Prairie Drive and Songbird Lane in Huntley on Monday morning.

But after Morin told the Daily Herald that the landing wasn't an emergency, authorities are reconsidering a disturbing the peace charge, Huntley Police Chief John Perkins said.

"If he chose to land there, and then caused all those 911 calls, to me, that's disturbing the peace," Perkins said. He compared the alarm the incident created to yelling fire in a movie theater.

Morin told the Northwest Herald on Wednesday that the incident was "a completely normal, every day thing in the ballooning world."

He said the landing was done "for safety reasons." He'd been flying for about an hour but had another hour of fuel remaining, he said.

"You can't pass up too many safe landing spots," said Morin, who owns Nostalgia Ballooning in Hampshire.

Balloon pilots never know exactly where they will land, Morin said.

"I found a nice, wide intersection, so I chose that particular location," he said. "It just seems unorthodox because this area is not used to steady balloon flying."

None of the four passengers in the balloon were injured.

Perkins said the incident wasn't a top priority, but that it is "worth looking into."

"If these balloon enthusiasts think they can just start landing wherever they want, there could be an issue," he said.

Monday's incident was Huntley's second hot-air balloon landing in a week that caused alarm. A balloon landed on Pinecrest Golf Course Friday, injuring a 93-year-old female passenger.

The pilot decided to land on the course after winds changed, blowing him off his path. A final wind gust as the craft landed caused the woman's injury, police said.

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