ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – The basket of a hot air balloon tipped after the craft got stuck, sending a woman on a 60- to 70-foot fall to her death Monday, state police said.

The balloon snagged a fiber-optic line running above a power line about 8 a.m. during an annual balloon festival. The pilot threw down a tether to a pickup truck on the ground to reel the balloon down and free it, state police spokesman Andrew Tingwall said.

But the tether broke, and the balloon flew back up, causing its gondola to tip and the woman to fall to the ground, Tingwall said.

Paramedics tried to revive the woman, Rosemary Wooley Phillips, 60, of California, in a dirt field where she fell, but were unsuccessful, he said. The balloon, meanwhile, flew across a road near Interstate 25 and crash landed, Tingwall said.

Phillips was one of five people on board. Tingwall did not know the conditions of the other three passengers or the pilot.

The crash site is about three miles from the launch site for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, a nine-day event that began Saturday and features mass ascensions of balloons, events for special-shaped balloons and competitions for pilots.

At the launch field, balloonists expressed condolences for the victim’s family.

“It puts a bit of a cloud over the fiesta,” said pilot Chris Hinde of Rugby, England, flying in Albuquerque for the 10th year. “People always ask if we should keep going. We made the decision not to fly today after we heard the news.”


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