Woman killed in balloon crash in Albuquerque 12:20 PM CT
12:35 PM CDT on Monday, October 8, 2007
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A woman participating in the city's annual balloon festival fell from the tipped basket of a hot air balloon Monday, and plunged 60 to 70 feet to her death, state police said.
State police spokesman Andrew Tingwall identified the victim, one of five people aboard the balloon's gondola, as Rosemary Wooley Phillips, 60, of California. He did not have a hometown.
The balloon became stuck on a fiberoptic line about 9 a.m. Dallas time, and the pilot, Tom Reyes, 57, of Sandia Park threw a tether to a pickup truck on the ground to reel the balloon down and free it, Tingwall said.
However, the tether broke and the balloon flew back up, causing its gondola to tip and the woman to fall out, Tingwall said.
Emergency medical technicians tried to revive her in a dirt field where she fell, but were unsuccessful, he said.
The balloon, meanwhile, flew across a road near Interstate 25 and crash landed, he said.
The balloon, flying in the 36th annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, also carried Sheryl Diaz, 60; Susan Simpson, 57; and Doris Currier, 52, all of California.
Tingwall had no information about any injuries to the others aboard.
The crash site is about three miles from the launch field for the nine-day ballooning fiesta, which takes place every October and draws hundreds of balloons. The fiesta features mass ascensions of balloons, events for special shapes balloons and competitions for pilots.
There have been fatalities in previous years.
One woman was killed during the 1998 fiesta when a balloon plowed into two sets of power lines before plummeting about 30 feet to the ground at Kirtland Air Force Base on Albuquerque's south side.
During the 1993 fiesta, two men were killed when their balloon hit power lines, severing the gondola, which plunged about 90 feet to the ground.
Two other men died during the 1990 fiesta when their balloon crashed into power lines and burst into flames.
Four people died and five were injured during the 1982 fiesta when propane tanks on a large balloon exploded.