Recovery mission ends, final victim of balloon crash found - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Recovery mission ends, final victim of balloon crash found

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Recovery teams found the last of three hot air balloon crash victims Sunday just 100 yards north from where the second passenger was found.

Virginia State Police began wrapping up their mission  which began a day ago in the Caroline Pines subdivision as a rescue mission but quickly change to recovery.

A team of over 100 law enforcement specialists from several agencies banded together in the midst of what had suddenly become a great tragedy.

For hours they searched a widespread rural area for the three passengers on board the hot air balloon.

"These guys walk a selected section by foot. It is a very meticulous process, and they will actually fan out in the area of the debris field,' Corinne Geller with Virginia State Police said.

The first of three occupants on board the balloon was found just before midnight Friday. The second passenger was found Saturday morning and on Sunday, recovery teams found the last of the three just 100 yards north from where the second passenger was found.

We've learned the pilot, Dan Kirk, had more than 25 years of experience piloting balloons. Police said Kirk tried relentlessly to help his two passengers.  

"Based on the witness accounts, he made every effort to do everything he could in his power to save his passengers lives and his own," Geller said.

Despite Kirk's courageous efforts, he, Ginny Doyle, and Natalie Lewis all lost their lives this weekend.

With the full-scale recovery mission complete, State Police and NTSB will continue searching for the balloon wreckage and other evidence that could possibly shed light on what led to this tragedy.

Ff you have pictures or video of the balloon crash you can email them to the NTSB at eyewitnessreport@ntsb.gov

Copyright 2014 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.

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