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Third body found after Virginia hot air balloon crash, passengers identified as University of Richmond athletic staffers

By Daniel S Levine,

All three victims of Friday night’s deadly hot air balloon crash in Caroline County, Virginia have been identified after the third body was recovered. The two passengers have been identified as members of the University of Richmond’s athletic staff.

The crash happened Friday night at Meadow Event Park during the Mid-Atlantic Balloon Festival. Witnesses said that the balloon struck a power cord and the gondola detached from the balloon. The first body was found and officials said Saturday morning that it was now a recovery operation.

During the weekend, authorities did find the other two bodies. According to ABC News, the third body was found Sunday morning, around 100 yards from the second body.

The pilot was identified as Daniel Kirk, whose father said he had over 30 years of flying experience, reports USA Today. Kirk was also a retired Army lieutenant colonel.

The two passengers were both women who worked in the University of Richmond’s athletic department. Ginny Doyle, 44, was the women's basketball associate head coach and Natalie Lewis, 24, was the director of operations. Lewis graduated from the university in 2011.

“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 Ayers said in a statement. “Their leadership and friendship will endure in the lives of so many.”

The two were identified just before the university’s graduation ceremony. There was a moment of silence to remember them before the ceremony.

Keith Gill, director of athletics, added, “Words cannot begin to express our sorrow. We are all stunned by the tragic news. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their loved ones.”

 
 

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