1 Dead, 2 Passengers Missing in Va. Hot Air Balloon Crash

The recovery continues this morning for two passengers of a hot air balloon that drifted into power lines over the countryside north of Richmond, then burst into flames and crashed to earth. On board were one pilot and two passengers; one body has been recovered and has been sent to a medical examiner for identification.

The collision happened on Friday night at the Mid-Atlantic Balloon Festival. After the balloon caught fire, witnesses say the pilot performed emergency procedures by opening the top of the balloon to let air out, but the balloon and its gondola eventually separated. Carrie Hager-Bradley, a witness, told WWBT,

"They were just screaming for anybody to help them. 'Help me, help me, sweet Jesus, help, I'm going to die. Oh my God, I'm going to die,'" she said.

Her daughter told her she saw someone falling out of the basket. Then Hager-Bradley also saw someone plummeting to the ground.

The Henrico Citizen is reporting that two of the passengers on the hot air balloon were staff members for University of Richmond women's basketball.

Other witnesses have said they saw two people plunge from the basket. There has not yet been success in finding any wreckage from the balloon.

[Image via CNN]