A pilot flying in the weather-delayed Preakness Week annual hot-air balloon race was injured yesterday when his craft hit a tree and landed in the back yard of a Northeast Baltimore home.
Rich Schroeder, of Lancaster, Pa., suffered a fractured vertebra. He was treated at Good Samaritan Hospital and later transferred to Lancaster General Hospital, where he was listed in satisfactory condition last night. His wife, Sharon, said he is scheduled to be released tomorrow . "He should be OK," she said. A passenger was uninjured.
The accident was the only damper for the race, which had been postponed Saturday because of poor weather conditions.
Taking off from Oregon Ridge Park shortly before 7 a.m., 33 balloons took part in the "race" -- a hare-and-hounds event in which the pilots pursue a leader balloon, trying to navigate with ,, wind currents and drop a marker closest to its landing site.