TOWN OF PINE RIVER — A crash that sent five people to a local hospital was caused by a person taking cell phone video of lanterns floating in the air, police said.
The crash was reported just after 8 p.m. on Hwy. 64 near Cain Creek Road in the town of Pine River, according to the state Department of Transportation. All lanes were closed for hours following the crash, police said.
A preliminary investigation suggests the crash was caused by distracted driving.
Witnesses told police that traffic had slowed on the highway after a group of people released “Chinese Lanterns,” creating a stir with passing motorists. Chinese Lanterns are small hot air balloons made of thin paper, with an opening at the bottom where a small fire is suspended. They are sometimes used to mark special occasions or holidays.
One vehicle containing four occupants was struck by a second vehicle, the driver of which admitted using his cell phone to record video of the floating lanterns while driving, police confirmed Monday.
All injuries were non life threatening. The driver of the second vehicle will be cited for inattentive driving, police said.