DOSWELL, Va. (WTVR) – Two victims in Friday night’s hot air balloon fire and crash were members of the University of Richmond women’s basketball staff, the University of Richmond confirmed Saturday night.
Associate head women’s basketball coach Ginny Doyle and director of basketball operations Natalie Lewis were on the balloon that crashed, the university said. Official identification is pending from the Medical Examiner’s Office.
“As alumnae, classmates, and colleagues and as invaluable and devoted mentors for our student-athletes Ginny and Natalie have been beloved members of our community,” UR President Edward L. Ayers said in a statement. “Their leadership and friendship will endure in the lives of so many.”
“Words cannot begin to express our sorrow,” UR Athletic Director Keith Gill said in a statement. “We are all stunned by the tragic news. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their loved ones.”
The university has grief counselors on standby to help faculty, staff and students.
Earlier Saturday, the University of Richmond announced it had postponed this weekend’s home baseball games vs. St. Bonaventure.
Prior to the university’s confirmation, the parents of Natalie Lewis confirmed via a spokesperson that she was a passenger on the balloon.
“The search continues for our beloved daughter and we remain hopeful and ask for your continued prayers,” Patricia and Evan Lewis, who are now in Richmond, said in a statement.
Additionally, multiple sources previously confirmed to WTVR CBS 6 News that Ginny Doyle, the women’s basketball team’s associate head coach, was the other passenger on the balloon.
Virginia Balloons’ Mark Nelson confirmed to CBS News that Dan Kirk was piloting the balloon when the accident happened.
“The Balloon community shares the loss of our good friend Dan Kirk “Capt Kirk” that was killed during contact with electrical wires…,” Mark Nelson of Virginia Balloons said in a statement. “Dan was a very accomplished Balloon pilot that enjoyed flying in competitive Balloon events and was a true ambassador to the sport of Hot Air Ballooning. Our hearts go out to Dans family & the families of passengers involved in the Balloon accident.”
The remains of two people in the balloon when it caught fire were discovered Saturday.
Virginia State Police said that a massive search continues for the third victim following Friday’s deadly accident at the Mid-Atlantic Balloon Festival Friday night. That search will resume Sunday morning.