Two killed in hot air balloon accident

May 19, 2005 at 8:07 AM
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SHREVEPORT, La., May 19 (UPI) -- A man and woman in Shreveport, La., were killed when their hot air balloon hit a power line and caught fire, spreading debris over three miles.

Pilots Bill Harwell, 52, and Sandi DeMoss, 54, both were either thrown or fell from the basket just after 7 p.m. Wednesday evening.

Shreveport firefighters believe the basket struck a power line, as a short in the 34,000-volt power line tripped breakers and caused a momentary outage in the area, the Shreveport Times reported Thursday.

Fire crews found Harwell alive but with life-threatening injuries. He was taken to LSU Hospital in Shreveport, where he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival. DeMoss' body was found about a block from Harwell. She had been burned and was injured when she jumped or fell from the burning craft, authorities said.

Harwell had been certified by the Federal Aviation Administration as a balloon pilot for at least 10 years, the newspaper said.

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