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Investigation continues in balloon deaths

The Medical Examiner’s Office released the cause and manner of death for the three victims of Friday’s hot air balloon crash in Caroline County.

According to Arkuie Williams, an administrator in the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office in Richmond, the balloon’s pilot, Daniel “Captain” Kirk and passenger Ginny Doyle died of blunt force trauma.

Passenger Natalie Lewis died of acute thermal injuries associated with the fire, he said. Williams did not elaborate, but the term is used to describe severe burns.

All three deaths were ruled accidental.

The trio were participants in the inaugural event for the Mid-Atlantic Balloon Festival at the Meadow Event Park in Doswell.

They were aboard the balloon when it struck a power line along Ruther Glen Road, caught fire and later exploded about 8 p.m.

After an intense search during a two-day period, the bodies of Doyle, Lewis and Kirk were found within about 1,500 yards of each other, police said.

Doyle, 44, was the associate head basketball coach for the University of Richmond women’s team and had been on the staff for 16 years. Before coaching, she was a standout student basketball player until she graduated in 1992.

Lewis, 24, had been working as the school’s director of operations for the women’s basketball team since 2012 and had also been a standout student and champion swimmer.

A memorial service for the pair will be held at the university’s Cannon Memorial Chapel at 10 a.m. Wednesday. It is open to the public. No digital or video cameras will be allowed inside the chapel.

No memorial service plans for Kirk had been made public as of Tuesday afternoon.

The state police, National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration are conducting individual investigations. Anyone with photos or video of the balloon crash is asked to submit them by email to the NTSB at eyewitnessreport@ntsb.gov.

Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/newsdesk/2014/05/13/balloonists-causes-of-death-released/