WASHINGTON (WTVR)– The National Transportation Safety Board has released a new report on the hot-air balloon crash that killed a pilot and two University of Richmond staffers last May at the inaugural Mid-Atlantic Balloon Festival.
The NTSB’s report reveals that the balloon’s pilot, Daniel Kirk died of blunt force trauma.
According to the toxicology report, there was no alcohol in Kirk’s system. The pilot was taking Allegra, an antihistamine, along with another medication for blood pressure. But there is no indication that those medications contributed to the cause of the crash.
“Multiple eyewitnesses reported that the accident balloon approached the intended landing area from the south where another balloon had just landed,” the report reads. “As the accident balloon approached the landing site, the pilot engaged the burner; however, the balloon struck powerlines, which resulted in a spark."
The report goes on to say, "A video obtained from a witness indicated that as the pilot approached the intended landing area on May 9, 2014, he engaged the burner for about 15 seconds prior to impacting the powerlines. Subsequently, the balloon basket and a section of the envelope caught fire. The balloon then began an accelerated climb and drifted out of the top view of the video recording.”
University of Richmond coaching staff members Ginny Doyle and Natalie Lewis were also killed in the hot air balloon crash. Doyle served as associate coach on the women’s basketball team. Lewis was Director of Basketball Operations for the program.
The final report should be released in February or March.