Fishers, IN Hot Air Balloon Accident, Aug 1978
THREE PERSONS KILLED IN BALLOON ACCIDENT.
Fishers, Ind. (UPI) -- Three persons, a woman and two men, were killed Tuesday night in a fiery hot-air balloon accident near this Hamilton County community about 15 miles northeast of Indianapolis, police said.
Indiana State Police investigators said the deaths occurred when the balloon caught fire after it bacame entangled in high-voltage power lines while attempting to land in a soybean field.
Indiana State Police identified the victims as ELIZABETH DOMONT, 31, Indianapolis, pilot of the balloon; MICHAEL A. KELLY, 30, Bloomington, and JAMES E. KOHS, 44, Indianapolis.
All three victims suffered extensive burns in addition to other injuries, police said.
Indiana State Police Sgt. Claude Zook witnessed the tragedy and said he saw a man and a woman jump from the balloon from a height of about 100 feet after the pilot apparently freed the burning craft from the electrical wires and began an ascent.
Authorities said the third victim plunged to earth about one-half mile away minutes later in the smoldering gondola which separated from the air-filled canopy after flames burned through the ropes holding the basket.
The main part of the balloon deflated and landed another mile from the gondola, troopers said.
Zook, who was off duty and driving in a car accompanied by his wife, said the basket carrying the third victim must have fallen about 200 feet.
The ill-fated craft was one of four in a leisure flying formation. One of the balloons had landed in a field and the second craft then attempted to set down. State Police indicated the pilot either had a problem or apparently failed to see the power lines as he descended.
Sparks were visible almost immediately and witnesses also said they saw what appeared to be an explosion. Troopers said that might have been a gas bottle used to heat the air to keep the craft flying.
Besides state police, the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board was asked to investigate.
Pharos Tribune Logansport Indiana 1978-08-30