A newly engaged couple had the experience of a lifetime when their sunset hot air balloon ride ended with an emergency landing on a beach north of San Diego Sunday.
Hundreds of people along the coast near Cardiff-by-the-Sea just before 7 p.m. watched as the balloon drifted off course and hovered over the waves.
Eric Barretto was proposing to his fiancee when he said the balloon veered over the water and the pilot could not get the balloon back to shore.
Barretto said they threw a line to the water below and some surfers helped pull the balloon back to shore.
"It's unforgettable. That's all I can say," Barretto said. "I don't know if we'll do it again."
The pilot, who identified himself as Tim with Panda Air Bear Balloon Flights, said that as the winds pushed the balloon to the west, he thought the best thing to do was get to the water and have the onshore winds help push the balloon back to shore.
The balloon basket landed in the surf and took in several waves, according to Encinitas Marine Safety Capt. Larry Giles.
"Between the lifeguards and the bystanders in the water, the surfers here at Cardiff reef, everyone did a great job and they got the balloon back up onto the beach without injury," Giles said.
No one was hurt.