Natalie Lewis family spokesman releases statement expressing thanks

A spokesman for the family of Natalie Lewis, one of three victims in last Friday's hot air balloon accident in Caroline County, has released a statement thanking Virginia authorities and the University of Richmond, where Lewis was director of women's basketball operations.

The statement, released to Buffalo, NY, NBC affiliate station WGRZ, in full:

"We are stunned and saddened beyond any understanding over what has happened to our beloved Natalie.

We would like to thank everyone, particularly the Virginia State Police who worked tirelessly in the search and recovery process. They have been thoroughly professional and very comforting to us.

Natalie's University of Richmond family has surrounded us as well during these difficult days.

The people of Buffalo, New York, Natalie's hometown, have provided prayers, support and love. We have felt this from so many miles away over the past two days.

Natalie's life was full of blessings, reflected by her unwavering and steadfast Catholic faith. But, in so many ways, her life was just beginning. She was engaged to marry the love of her life, Michael Dougher, and we now include him as another son in our grieving family.

It has been extremely difficult to deal with this tragedy, but our faith, our family, and our friends all give us strength. Thank you for continued your prayers."

Click here for NBC12's full coverage of the hot air balloon accident.

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