2 Dead, 1 Missing After Hot-Air Balloon Crash

Balloon hit utility wire on descent and burst into flames

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted May 10, 2014 6:16 AM CDT | Updated May 10, 2014 12:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – A hot-air balloon ride went horribly wrong in rural Virginia yesterday, and three people are feared dead. State Police say the balloon struck a power line as it was descending and burst into flames, with the gondola separating from the balloon itself, reports WWBT. A pilot and two passengers were on board, and two bodies have been found so far in Caroline County. "As soon as we looked up, the thing blew up right there," says a witness quoted in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "All I heard was, 'Oh my God, Oh my God,' and all you saw was the top of the balloon still flying, but all of the basket was gone. ... It was like a match—poof—and then it was gone."

A State Police spokesperson says the pilot appeared to begin making safety maneuvers when the fire first began, but its intensity quickly made those efforts futile. The crash occurred about 8pm. “We also have had reports and video that show two individuals possibly fell from the basket,” said the spokesperson. The balloon had gone up as part of a weekend balloon festival that has since been canceled.

This photo provided by Nancy Johnson shows the balloon.   (AP Photo/Nancy Johnson)
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