Three Other Women Injured In Balloon Accident Named as
The sister of a woman
who fell to her death during the Albuquerque International Balloon
Fiesta earlier this month filed a wrongful death lawsuit against
the balloon pilot, his employers and the fiesta.
The lawsuit, accuses the defendants of being reckless and
causing the October 8 incident that led to the death of Rosemary
Wooley Phillips, 60, who was a resident of Oceanside, CA at the
time of her death.
Three of Phillips' friends Sheryl Diaz, 60; Susan Simpson, 57;
and Doris Currier, 52. who were also in the balloon and were
injured during the same incident are plaintiffs in the case.
Phillips sister's attorney declined to comment Friday, according to
the Associated Press.
Heavenly Ride, piloted by Tom Reyes, snagged a utility line that
morning near Interstate 25 (I-25) with all of the women on board.
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, State Police
said at the time, as reported in ANN.
The tether broke and the balloon suddenly shot up, witnesses
said, causing Phillips to fall out.
The balloon, meanwhile, drifted across I-25. It crash-landed in
a vacant lot used by other balloons as a landing site, injuring the
other passengers. Two of the women had broken legs and the third
had minor bumps and bruises.
Witnesses reported that Phillips was waving her arms, and
screaming as she fell.
According to reports
paramedics on the scene tried to revive her but she was pronounced
dead a short time later at University of New Mexico Hospital.
Named in the lawsuit as defendants are the balloon fiesta; pilot
Reyes of Sandia Park, NM who has been described as a longtime
veteran of hot-air ballooning; his employer, Star Trail Inc.; and
Rainbow Ryders, the company Reyes was contracting with to provide
balloons flights during the fiesta.
The women had booked the flight with Rainbow Ryders, who have
been in business in Albuquerque for 24 without an accident.
The lawsuit states: ". . . the defendants are directly liable
for their intentional, reckless and negligent acts." Winds on the
morning of the crash were light enough that many balloons launched,
but speeds increased in velocity soon after.
Balloon fiesta spokeswoman Kathie Leyendecker had no knowledge
of the lawsuit, and would not comment Star Trail Inc.
officials were also unaware of the filing but noted that the
accident was still under investigation by federal officials.
Phillips was well known as a former Alaskan who had lived in
Nome and Wasilla. Phillips was known as an adventurous woman who
was a dog musher and had flown the Iditarod Sled Dog Race Trail,
from Anchorage to Nome several times.
Phillips traveled the 1,149 mile Iditarod Trail by snow machine
one year to photograph dog teams competing in the sled dog race.
She later became the race's executive director during the early