Donte Stallworth did not know if he would make it out alive after the hot-air balloon he was touring in hit power lines on its way to the ground.
Stallworth and friend Soleil Guerrero suffered severe non life-threatening burns in March during the accident. The former Patriots wide receiver opened up Wednesday for the first time about the incident, and what he and Guerrero went though.
In an exclusive interview with FOX Sports, Stallworth said the first sign of trouble that fateful day was when the balloon operator radioed to his ground crew saying that he would not be able to make his intended landing spot. After surveying a second landing spot, the balloon operator told his ground crew to assemble there and prepare for their landing.
The balloon operator and his passengers soon saw power lines in the distance. The pilot discussed this potential hazard with his ground crew, Stallworth said, and asked the football player, whom he had given an anchor-like device to hold, to throw it over the basket once they had cleared the power lines.
But the group never cleared the power lines.
From FOX Sports:
“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.’
Days later, when former New England Patriots teammate Wes Welker and his wife Anna paid a visit, Stallworth tried to describe the pain of electrical shock in terms Welker could relate to: ‘Imagine the hardest hit you’ve ever taken and multiply that by 1,000.’”
Stallworth said he’d felt intense burning on his legs and back. Guerrero told him that he had been on fire, as had she. He described seeing Guerrero in that state as “the most frightening part of the entire ordeal.”
The free agent is expected to be able to resume workouts within a month, and hopes to catch on with another NFL team for the 2013 season.
Stallworth played in one game for the Pats in the 2012 season and caught one pass for a 63-yard touchdown.