Victims of Hot Air Balloon Fire Incident in Virginia Identified

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By Sounak Mukhopadhyay | May 12, 2014 4:35 PM EST

A hot air balloon accident in Virginia killed two people while one went missing.

According to the police, the accident took place when the balloon caught fire over Virginia on May 9. While people were celebrating a festival, they witnessed the balloon above their heads caught on fire.

Authorities conducted an air search, while over a hundred people searched on the ground. Even though two people were reportedly found dead, there was no trace of the third person who was in the basket of the affected balloon when it caught fire. But the third person was eventually found by the rescuers.

According to The Guardian, the names of the victims were disclosed by the family members and the university they worked for even though police decided to maintain their anonymity

University of Richmond Director of Basketball Operations Natalie Lewis and Associate Head Coach Ginny Doyle were the ones who were killed in the hot balloon crash. Donald Kirk revealed that his son Daniel T Kirk was the one who accompanied the other two as he piloted the balloon.

The graduation ceremony at the university on May 11 did not turn out to be as pleasant as expected. Athlete Director Keith Gill said they were "stunned by the tragic news."

"Words cannot begin to express our sorrow," he said. Gill's statement added their "thoughts and prayers" went out to the loved ones of the victims.

Lewis, one of the victims, was from New York. She completed her second year as the director of basketball operations for the women's team, according to the university Web site. She captained the Spiders' swim team twice and a letter winner for four years. Family spokesman Julie Snyder said Lewis was "an amazing person and a strong person, an athlete engaged to be married."

Doyle, another victim, graduated from Richmond in 1992. She had an outstanding basketball career and served on the team staff for 16 years. She also earned all-conference honors twice as an athlete.

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