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Wayne Independent - Honesdale, PA
  • Authorities find remains of third occupant of hot-air balloon involved in fiery crash

  • Virginia state police say they have found the body of the third passenger of a hot air balloon that drifted into a power line, burst into flames and fell into a heavily wooded area about 25 miles north of Richmond.
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  • DOSWELL, Va. Virginia state police say they have found the body of the third passenger of a hot air balloon that drifted into a power line, burst into flames and fell into a heavily wooded area about 25 miles north of Richmond.
    State police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said the searchers found the body at 11 a.m. Sunday. The two other passengers had previously been found.
    Police have not released the victims' names, but family members and the University of Richmond said associate head coach Ginny Doyle and director of basketball operations Natalie Lewis were passengers. Veteran hot air balloon pilot Daniel T. Kirk was at the controls.
    Preparations for the University of Richmond's graduation ceremony were tinged with sadness Sunday.
    "Words cannot begin to express our sorrow," Keith Gill, the school's athletic director, said in a statement. "We are all stunned by the tragic news. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their loved ones."
    Donald Kirk on Sunday said his son, Daniel T. Kirk, was piloting the balloon. The balloon was registered to Daniel at an address in the Dover, Delaware, area. His company's website said he had been a hot air balloon pilot for more than 20 years and had a commercial balloon pilot license issued by the Federal Aviation Administration.
    Two bodies have been found so far. Searchers continued to look for the third body Sunday. Undergraduate commencement at University of Richmond was scheduled for later in the day.
    Lewis just completed her second year as director of basketball operations for the women's team, according to a profile on the university's website. The Buffalo, New York, native was a four-year letter winner and two-time captain of the Spiders' swim team.
    Lewis was "an amazing person and a strong person, an athlete engaged to be married," according to family spokeswoman Julie Snyder.
    Doyle, who graduated from Richmond in 1992 after a standout basketball career, served on the team staff for 16 years after that including nine winning seasons. She earned all-conference honors twice as a player.
    "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.
    The university canceled two weekend baseball games and held a moment of silence at commencement Saturday for its law school.
    Amber Battle, who will be a senior next season, said from her home in Apex, North Carolina that her coach, Michael Shafer, was keeping the team updated via text messages.
    He told them that he was also at the balloon festival.
    Page 2 of 2 - "I just can't believe this happened," she said.

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