Two Dead, One Remains Missing in Va. Balloon Crash

By Kevin Byrne, Staff Writer
May 11, 2014; 4:40 AM ET
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Two bodies have been recovered, and the search continues for the third, after a hot air balloon caught fire and crashed around 8 p.m., Friday evening in Virginia.

While descending, the balloon reportedly came in contact with a live utility line before catching fire, according to Virginia State Police.

Two of the people on board were from the University of Richmond's athletics department.

Ginny Doyle, associate head women's basketball coach, and Natalie Lewis, director of basketball operations, were on the balloon, the university said in a news release. Official identification is pending from the Virginia Medical Examiner's Office.

"As alumnae, classmates, and colleagues - and as invaluable and devoted mentors for our student-athletes - Ginny and Natalie have been beloved members of our community," university President Edward L. Ayers said. "Their leadership and friendship will endure in the lives of so many."

The crash occurred ahead of this weekend's mid-Atlantic Balloon Festival in Doswell, in rural Caroline County about 25 miles north of Richmond. The festival has been canceled, according to the festival website.

This photo provided by Nancy Johnson shows what authorities say is a hot-air balloon that was believed to have caught fire and crashed in Virginia, Friday, May 9, 2014. Virginia State Police received calls of the crash shortly before 8 p.m., police spokeswoman Corinne Geller told a news conference. Geller said a pilot and two passengers were believed to be on board, and that police believe it was the gondola that caught fire. (AP Photo/Nancy Johnson)

The weather was calm, with winds around 3 to 6 mph around the time of the crash, said Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

"There were storms in south central Virginia moving eastward, but they were still a significant distance away from the balloon site at the time of the incident," Sosnowski said.


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