Hot air balloon startles family in Towson by bouncing off roof


The Zaminskis heard the "thump, thump, thump" on the roof of their Towson home early yesterday and knew it couldn't be Santa Claus.

It turned out to be a hot air balloon.

"I'm 65 years old, and this is the craziest thing that's ever &L; happened to me -- waking up on a Sunday with a hot air balloon bouncing off your roof," said Frank Zaminski, who lives in the 1400 block of Shefford Road.

His 84-year-old mother, Vera, was walking her dog in the family's back yard when the balloon's gondola hit her son's roof at 8 a.m.

"I couldn't believe my eyes. I could see the people plain as day," she said. "There were three people kind of huddled together, and they looked kind of scared. I was so frightened. I never thought I'd see anything like that, believe me. I guess I've seen it all now."

As she watched, the balloon bounced off the roof, rose slightly and barely cleared a clump of trees nearby.

Mr. Zaminski said he didn't believe his mother's story at first, but realized he should call Baltimore County police. Patrol cars fanned out from the Zaminskis' home but couldn't find the balloon.

"We're still trying to track them down," Sgt. Wayne Howard said yesterday afternoon, adding that the pilot won't be in trouble for the bounce-and-run because "it's not like you can just set balloons down anywhere." He said the Federal Aviation Administration had been notified.

The Zaminskis will have to wait until a roofer inspects the shingles today to find out if there is any damage.

"If there's no damage and nobody's hurt, it's funny," Mr. Zaminski said. "Had that hit the side of the building with three adults in it [the balloon], they could have been seriously hurt, or maybe hurt someone inside the house. They were lucky. I hope they call."

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