March 19th, 2012
11:40 AM ET

Crews search for balloonist who fell from 17,000 feet amid storm

Search-and-rescue teams were conducting an aerial and ground search Monday for a missing hot air balloonist who crashed in Georgia three days earlier.

At least seven helicopters and planes were in the air and more than 100 people were on the ground looking for Ed Ristaino of North Carolina, Ben Hill County Sheriff Bobby McLemore said.

Teams made up of state patrol officers, forestry units, neighboring sheriff's department personnel, and other volunteers were scouring areas east of Fitzgerald in south-central Georgia, where it is believed the balloon basket went down.

The search was not easy, McLemore said.

"It's majority pines out there with underbrush, some hardwood bottoms, really just a lot of vegetation," he said. "It's more woods than anything - we don't have a lot of open areas."

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Filed under: Georgia • U.S.
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. chrissy

    I just read this story and NO WHERE did they mention ocean! They howeves say forest, alot of trees and underbrush. He very well may still be alive! Have some faith that he will be found people!

    March 19, 2012 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Savior

      Lol faith can move mountains.but I'm sure it can't survive a 17,000 foot fall.but you go girl

      Keep the faith..

      March 20, 2012 at 12:31 am | Report abuse |
  2. raven

    His body has been recovered. My sympathies to his loved ones. Tragic.

    March 20, 2012 at 4:06 am | Report abuse |
  3. Bill

    Hf he was a cat he could of landed on his feet

    March 20, 2012 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
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