Balloonist Dies Saving Skydivers

Thunderstorm pulls basket to 17,000 feet


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Rescue teams have found the body of a missing hot air balloonist who was lost in a storm on Friday in Fitzgerald, Georgia after helping a group of skydivers jump to safety. Ed Ristaino, 63, had five skydivers on board when a storm appeared above his balloon. He instructed his passengers to jump quickly before the balloon was sucked up into the clouds. “If we would have left a minute later, we would have been sucked into the storm,” said skydiver Dan Eaton. Ristaino was able to radio to his ground team to say that the updraft had taken him more than 17,000 feet before tangling his ropes and collapsing the balloon, causing it to plummet to the ground. Officials said there was no sign of a storm when the balloon took off.

Read more at the San Francisco Chronicle