Man who fell from balloon remains critical

A Grants Pass man who was injured last week when he fell from a hot air balloon he was helping to land remains in critical condition today at Rogue Valley Medical Center.

Eldon Foster, 70, was part of the ground crew helping bring in a balloon near Redwood Elementary School on Leonard Road Friday morning. When two passengers got out, the lighter balloon surged upward, with Foster hanging on to the basket. Although pilot Bill Woodhead hurried to bring the balloon down, Foster lost his grip and fell, reported an update from Foster's family posted on the Josephine County Search and Rescue blog,

Foster joined the search and rescue team in January and recently passed a fitness test to join a mountain rescue team, officials said.

Foster's family reports online that he has undergone a six-hour surgery to repair a shattered femur and fix his nose and facial injuries, and relieve the pressure building up in his brain. His breathing and responsiveness are improving, family members wrote online.

A fund to help defray medical costs has been set up at Home Valley Bank. Donations can be made at any branch in the name of the Eldon Foster Donation Fund, search-and-rescue officials said.

Hospital officials said Foster remains in intensive care, but was upgraded to serious condition for a time over the weekend.

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