Boaters find hot air balloon wreckage in Mattaponi River - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Boaters find hot air balloon wreckage in Mattaponi River

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CAROLINE, VA (WWBT) -

Eighteen days after a fatal Caroline County hot air balloon crash, crews pulled wreckage from the hot air balloon from the Mattaponi River.

Caroline County Sheriff Tony Lippa said this water where boaters found the balloon wreckage was about 3 1/2 feet deep. People who live around here said they remember seeing that balloon float over their homes.

Images show most of the balloon stayed intact, but Lippa said you could see where parts of it burned. Authorities were also able to recover the burner, which was still attached.

Lippa said some boaters were kayaking and canoeing up the river when they thought they saw a pool liner in the water. When they got closer they recognized the markings and realized it was the hot air balloon that crashed

"I couldn't imagine what they were feeling when they saw it," said Philip Vallincourt, who fishes regularly on the Mattaponi.

This part of the river near Route 301 in Milford is about six miles from the crash site. Vallincourt said he remembers seeing the balloon the night of the accident, after it had apparently crashed into power lines. "There was no basket when it went over my house," he said. "It was just the balloon."

Lippa said because the wreckage was in a more remote part of the Mattaponi, it took several hours to get the balloon out of the water. His command staff, including Maj. Scott Moser and Capt. Angel Lambert, and several other people had to swim it to shore.

The loss of Coach Ginny Doyle, Natalie Lewis and pilot Dan Kirk in this tragedy has rocked communities up and down the east coast. People living in Caroline County say they will help with the investigation in any way they can.

"I would have been in the water to help them get it out, you know, just as quick as the next person, that's just how it is around here," said Vallincourt.

There is still one more piece missing: the basket has not been found.

The hot air balloon wreckage is now with the National Transportation Safety Board. They are asking if anybody finds any other pieces they believe belonged to the balloon to let authorities know.

Click here for a PDF of the NTSB report: http://bit.ly/1i0v5tO

Click here for full #HotAirBalloon tragedy coverage: http://bit.ly/1mTbKjG

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