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1 Killed, 2 Hurt in Ballooning Accident

July 04, 1995|From Associated Press

DAVIS, Calif. — A woman died and two people were injured Monday when a hot-air balloon landed hard and bounced some of its passengers out into a field, officials said.

A 27-year-old woman died when she fell out of the balloon's basket face down into the field, according to spokesman Bob Barbarick of the Napa-based Balloons Above the Valley.

She was identified by the Yolo County coroner as Caroline Kinnear of Dallas.

Two other passengers suffered minor injuries and were taken to a Davis hospital for treatment, paramedics said.

The balloon took off from Yolo County Airport about 7 a.m. for a champagne tour, Barbarick said. It had traveled about a dozen miles and was making a scheduled landing in a field when the accident occurred about 9 a.m. not far from the Yolo-Solano county line.

"She [the pilot] was trying to land here, because it's a huge open field and there are no lines here or anything to obstruct the landing," Barbarick said.

Witnesses said the balloon hit the ground hard and bounced three times; the woman who died fell out on the first bounce. Yolo County sheriff's deputies said the gondola hit the ground at 10 to 15 m.p.h., causing it to tilt and eject the three passengers.

The Aero Star-type hot-air balloon was carrying 10 people, including the pilot and a family from Japan, officials said.

The Sheriff's Department is investigating the cause of the crash.

Barbarick said there was a little fog and the winds were about 15 knots, but weather conditions were considered safe for balloon travel.

It was the first fatal accident involving a Napa Valley balloon company, a spokesman for the Napa Valley Balloon Pilots Assn. said.

Barbarick said Balloons Above the Valley has flown hot-air balloons for 18 years.

"We've never had anything more than a sprained ankle," he said.

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