Meadow Event Park decides to discontinue balloon festival after tragedy

CAROLINE, VA (WWBT) - Meadow Event Park has decided to discontinue the Mid-Atlantic Balloon Festival after a hot air balloon tragedy.

"It's just so sad," said Gwynn Owens. "I feel so sad for all of them."

Owens was sad to learn two of three victims from the tragic hot air balloon accident were found near her home. NTSB agents converged on her property.

"They said about 700 meters," said Owens. "That's where the body was. I'm just so amazed at these people who could get through this mess. Those are briars and blackberries and just terrible things back there."

Virginia State Police said the remains were found 1500 yards apart.

"It was really amazing to me how respectful and quiet everyone was," said Owens. "That's why I didn't take any pictures or anything. I thought that would have been the supreme invasion of the privacy of those people."

Greg Hicks with Meadow Event Park says they have decided to discontinue the Mid-Atlantic Balloon festival.

"Just a terrible feeling comes over you when you see something like that," said Hicks who says the park is now working on a fund for the family members of the victims.

"Will you all be making an initial donation?" we asked Hicks.

"Yes ," replied Hicks. "We're not sure how much yet, but that will be decided over the next several days. Whatever we do…it's not enough, but we have to do something."

Hicks says they also plan to refund all 4,000 people who bought tickets for the balloon event.

Sources tell NBC 12, search & rescue teams have recovered the remains of balloon pilot, Dan Kirk --- known to his buddies as Captain Kirk. NBC News spoke with his father, who called this a "freak accident" --- saying his son was always very cautious.

The rescue team also recovered Associate Head Coach of the women's basketball team at the University of Richmond -- Ginny Doyle. We are told crews will resume their search for Natalie Lewis, the 24-year-old director of basketball operations at University of Richmond at first daylight.

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