ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — One of hundreds of balloons in town for a festival tipped after snagging a utility line Monday, sending a woman plummeting at least 70 feet to her death.
Three other women in the gondola were hospitalized — two with broken legs — after the balloon broke free and crash-landed. The tragic ride cast a pall over one of New Mexico's most popular and most colorful events.
"Our balloon community is a close-knit family and a time like this is difficult for all of us," said Gary Bennett, president of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.
The annual nine-day event draws hundreds of balloonists from around the world and hundreds of thousands of spectators.
The balloon, named "Heavenly Ride," snagged a utility line at 7:45 a.m. The pilot threw down a tether to a pickup truck on the ground in an apparent attempt to reel the balloon down and free it, a state police spokesman said.
But the tether broke and the balloon bounced back up, causing its gondola to tip. The woman fell more than 70 feet.