Parachutist jumps from balloon, gets away

Feb. 15, 2010 at 11:34 PM
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IRVINE, Calif., Feb. 15 (UPI) -- A man jumped from the Great Park balloon ride in Irvine, Calif., ran to a waiting car and got away before anyone could stop him, authorities said.

The balloon ride is an attraction at the park, which is being developed to replace a decommissioned military airfield in Orange County. The tethered helium balloon had ascended to an altitude of about 330 feet at about 9 p.m. Sunday when the man -- one of 12 passengers -- jumped out of the gondola and parachuted to the ground, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

Craig Reem, a spokesman for the city of Irvine, said the jumper landed about 100 feet from the balloon, gathered his parachute and jumped a fence -- where he then got into a Toyota Supra that had its engine running. The jumper and the driver were gone before anyone could stop them, Reem said.

"The idea of any balloon is to take people up and take them down safely, not to have them jump out at any height," Reem said. "What this guy did was pretty dangerous."

City officials said they were trying to determine whether the stunt breach federal rules against base jumping.

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