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Man falls to his death out of hot air balloon basket in Israel

The man's employer said he fell from a height of 164 feet off the ground. The balloon took off with the crew member attached to the basket.

A man is dead after falling Tuesday from a hot air balloon mid-flight, Israeli police said.

The man, in his 20s, was a crew member who had been dangling from the basket when he fell, according to police. 

"I don't know how this happened but he hung himself on the basket," Amir Almog, the man's employer, told reporters. 

He said the pilot told the man to jump when the hot air balloon was still close to the ground but that he insisted he would be able to hang on. The pilot could not immediately land and the man tumbled from the hot air balloon at a height of about 164 feet, Almog said.

For American readers, to get a real life sense of just how high 164 feet is, take a look at this famous U.S. attraction. The current Cape Hatteras National Seashore lighthouse in Cape Hatteras, North Carolina stands at 164 feet tall.

The Arc de Triomphe in Paris also stands at 164 feet tall. 

Local police official Slava Bonchuk told Israeli Army Radio that an initial investigation revealed that the hot air balloon appears to have taken off with the man clinging to the basket. He said police were alerted about the hanging crewman, who then informed the pilot. The man plummeted before the pilot was able to land the hot air balloon. 

Israeli media reported the man fell onto a passing car on a highway below, in a rural area of northern Israel. Police said they sealed off the area and are investigating the incident.

Media reports said the balloon and its 14 passengers onboard landed safely after the incident.

TEGNA's Douglas Jones contributed to this report.