Sheriff: Missing balloon pilot's body found - CBS46 News

Sheriff: Missing balloon pilot's body found

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A sheriff says searchers have found the body of a hot-air balloon pilot who went missing after he was hit by a thunderstorm in Georgia.

Ben Hill County Sheriff Bobby McLemore said a helicopter spotted the balloon, and searchers on the ground then found the body 63-year-old Edward Ristaino.

Ristaino of Cornelius, N.C., was taking five skydivers into the air Friday night during a festival in Fitzgerald, Ga., when a storm struck.

Ristaino told the skydivers to jump from the balloon. None were injured.

One of the skydivers, 30-year-old Jessica Wesnofske, told The Charlotte Observer that the pilot saved their lives. She said if he had waited another minute, the skydivers would have been in the storm.

The sheriff said strong winds then forced the balloon up to about 18,000 feet before it collapsed and plummeted to the ground.

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