NFL’s Donte’ Stallworth Burned by Hot-Air Balloon in FloridaNancy Kercheval
Donte’ Stallworth and his girlfriend suffered “severe burns” when the hot-air balloon they were riding in struck power lines in Homestead, Florida, the free-agent wide receiver’s attorney said.
Stallworth, 33, and Soleil Guerrero, have been transferred to the Jackson Memorial Hospital Burn Center from the Trauma Center at Kendall Regional Hospital, attorney Christopher Lyons said in a text message this morning. Both remain in a stable condition, Lyons said.
The hot-air balloon basket was carrying three adults when it crashed into power lines at 10 a.m. local time, Detective Roy Rutland of the Miami-Dade Police Department said in an e-mail. The third passenger wasn’t hurt.
“It happened while landing,” said Lyons, who declined last night to discuss the extent of the burns.
Drew Rosenhaus, Stallworth’s agent, said the injuries shouldn’t interfere with the player’s National Football League career, according to the Associated Press. Stallworth is looking for a job in the free-agent market after playing last season with the New England Patriots.
“He’s going to be OK,” said Rosenhaus, who is heading for the NFL owners’ meeting according to his Twitter site. “He will be able to continue his NFL career. The injuries are not to the extent they will jeopardize his career.”
The Patriots didn’t have any communication with Stallworth since he no longer is a member of the team, spokeswoman Stacey James said in an e-mail.
The accident occurred almost four years to the day after Stallworth killed a pedestrian while driving drunk after leaving a hotel bar near Miami Beach.
Stallworth, who was playing for the Cleveland Browns, was suspended for the 2009 NFL season by Commissioner Roger Goodell for violating both the league’s substance-abuse and personal-conduct policies.
Stallworth, driving his Bentley on March 14, 2009, killed 59-year-old construction worker Mario Reyes, police said. Tests showed Stallworth had a blood-alcohol level of .126 after the crash, above Florida’s legal limit of .08.
Three months later, Stallworth in June pleaded guilty to manslaughter while driving under the influence of alcohol and received a 30-day jail sentence. He also was sentenced to two years of house arrest, eight years of probation and 1,000 hours of community service. Attorneys for Reyes’s family reached an undisclosed financial settlement with Stallworth, who signed a seven-year, $35 million contract with the Browns before the 2008 season.
Stallworth signed with the Baltimore Ravens after he was reinstated following the Feb. 7, 2010, Super Bowl and his contract with the Browns was voided. He also played for the Washington Redskins before joining the Patriots.
The Federal Aviation Administration was on the ground in Miami to investigate the balloon accident, said Keith Holloway, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board in an e-mail.
A preliminary report of the findings can be expected in about 10 days, while the complete investigation may take as long as 18 months, Holloway said.