Donte Stallworth and a friend nearly lost their lives in a hot air balloon crash on March 16 in Miami. According to his first-hand account, written out by FOX Sports' Rebkah Howard, he and his friend saw signs of trouble before they ran into the power lines that nearly killed them.
Stallworth said that the first sign of trouble came when the hot air balloon operator had to radio to the ground crew that they would not be able to land at the original location due to high winds, and they had spotted a secondary location to land. The operator gave his ground crew directions and told them to wait for the balloon to arrive.
There were power lines between the secondary landing site and the balloon. The operator had given Stallworth an anchor-like weight that would help them land once they cleared the power lines and told him that he could drop it over the side when he was instructed to do so. The balloon never made it past the power lines, though.
The next thing Stallworth remembered is feeling strong, jarring, painful currents of electricity flowing through his body. He said he felt death approaching, later adding, "In that moment, I thought my eyes would close and I'd never wake up again."
Stallworth later said that the electrocution was like getting the "hardest hit you've ever taken and multiply that by 1,000." He also said that he felt a terrible burning sensation in his arms, lower back and buttocks. Guerrero and Stallworth had both been on fire during the ordeal, which Stallworth said was the most frightening part of the crash.
Stallworth said that when the basket hit the ground, while the balloon was still tangled in the power lines, he got Guerrero to her feet and away from the basket where they waited for the paramedics to arrive 10 minutes later. Both he and Guerrero were put in separate ambulances and given pain medication intravenously. They were both treated for minor burns that were neither life nor career threatening.
Stallworth said he remembers laughing at the irony at the scene when he was carted off in a stretcher for the first time.
"I've played professional football for 10 years and I've never been carted off the football field," he said he told them. "Now, after a couple hours in a hot air balloon, I'm getting airlifted off a farm."
Both Stallworth and Guerrero have recovered. Stallworth plans to resume workouts within the month and hopes to sign with a new team while Guerrero is going through physical therapy.