Two Richmond basketball officials die in hot air balloon mishap

Fitzgerald Cecilio – 4E Sports Reporter

Richmond, VA, United States (4E Sports) – Two University of Richmond women’s basketball officials were killed in a hot air balloon mishap Saturday.

Associate head coach Ginny Doyle and director of basketball operations Natalie Lewis were riding the balloon together with another passenger when it caught fire and crashed.

Bodies of two of the balloon’s occupants have been recovered, Virginia State Police said, and rescuers were still searching Saturday for another occupant, who was also feared dead.

Spiders head coach Michael Shafer was among those witnessed the incident. He participated in the outing to support his girlfriend, who was an organizer of the Mid-Atlantic Balloon Festival.

Shafer and his two daughters, who are 7 and 9 years old, had gone up in another balloon about the same time as Doyle and Lewis.

Doyle, a former Richmond player who had been on the staff for 16 seasons, tweeted about her balloon flight Friday.

“Getting ready to go up in a hot air balloon today,” she posted on Twitter and Instagram at 1:30 p.m. Friday. “Tried it at 6:30am but was too foggy. Will go up this evening #anxiety.”

Around 6 p.m., Doyle posted a photo of the balloon being set up, with the balloon rolled out on the ground and the basket nearby. She posted that she was “getting ready to go up.”

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