Family hopeful UR staffer will be found safe - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Family hopeful UR staffer will be found safe

Natalie Lewis (Photo courtesy: Lewis family) Natalie Lewis (Photo courtesy: Lewis family)
CAROLINE, VA (WWBT) -

The parents of a University of Richmond women's basketball team member feared dead in a hot air balloon crash Friday says they are still hopeful their daughter will be found safe.

"The search continues for our beloved daughter and we remain hopeful and ask for your continued prayers," the parents of Natalie Lewis said in a statement.

Lewis was one of three people on board a hot air balloon which went down after catching fire Friday. Patricia & Evan Lewis reside in Buffalo, NY, but are now in Richmond. They are requesting privacy until the search and rescue team completes their work.

Click here for the latest on the investigation: http://bit.ly/1seZRny

State Police officials say two bodies have been recovered, but offered little hope of a third victim being found alive. They have transitioned the operation from rescue to recovery, with the FAA and NTSB helping in the investigation.

 

Virginia State Police and the NTSB have not yet named any of the three people on board the balloon, but a family member of Ginny Doyle told the Washington Post the associate head coach was also among those presumed dead.

 

Lewis, 24, served as director of basketball operations for the team.

The Henrico Citizen was first to report the connection to the Richmond women's basketball team. The university has not yet provided any statement, but did postpone this weekend's baseball games.

State Police spokesperson Corinne Geller said crews found one body shortly before midnight and a second body around 11 a.m. Police continue to search for the basket, which detached from the balloon during the crash.

State Police believe the balloon went down when it struck a power line and caught fire around 7:56 p.m. Friday. The pilot began emergency safety maneuvers to get the fire under control, but witnesses told troopers the gondola and balloon eventually separated. Witnesses also reported hearing what sounded like two explosions.

Carrie Hager-Bradley was on her way home from the grocery store and saw the balloon on fire. She said she could hear cries from the people onboard.

"They were just screaming for anybody to help them. 'Help me. Help me, sweet Jesus. Help. I'm going to die. Oh my God, I'm going to die,'" Hager-Bradley said.

Hager-Bradley went on to say her daughter witnessed what appeared to be one occupant of the balloon fall to the ground.

DID YOU WITNESS THE BALLOON IN DISTRESS? Virginia State Police want to speak with anyone who may have seen the balloon on fire near the Caroline Pines subdivision. Call (804) 994-5754 with any information.

The balloon was one of three traveling northeast to a designated landing zone. The other two balloons were able to land safely.

Copyright 2014 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved

  • Trending StoriesTrending StoriesMore>>

  • Driver sought in crash that killed three children

    Driver sought in crash that killed three children

    Sunday, March 26 2017 2:11 AM EDT2017-03-26 06:11:41 GMT
    File photoFile photo

    The Mississippi Highway Patrol is looking for a driver who ran away from the scene of a deadly crash in George County. Three children were killed in the crash. Troopers said a green 2003 Kia Optima was heading east on Highway 198, east of Depot Road, shortly before 4 p.m. on Saturday.

    More >>

    The Mississippi Highway Patrol is looking for a driver who ran away from the scene of a deadly crash in George County. Three children were killed in the crash. Troopers said a green 2003 Kia Optima was heading east on Highway 198, east of Depot Road, shortly before 4 p.m. on Saturday.

    More >>
  • UPDATE: Kidnapped 11-month-old has been located

    UPDATE: Kidnapped 11-month-old has been located

    Saturday, March 25 2017 6:22 PM EDT2017-03-25 22:22:46 GMT
    Christian Perkins. (Source: ALEA)Christian Perkins. (Source: ALEA)

    The child, Christian Clay Perkins, an 11-month-old white male child, has been located.  

    More >>

    The child, Christian Clay Perkins, an 11-month-old white male child, has been located.  

    More >>
Powered by Frankly