Richmond mourns loss of women’s hoops staffers in tragic hot-air balloon accident

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Lewis (left) with Doyle (right) a day before the flight that would catch fire after hitting a power line.

Lewis (left) with Doyle (right) a day before the flight that would catch fire after hitting a power line.

Hearts around the Atlantic 10 broke this past weekend as two Richmond women’s basketball staffers were killed in a tragic hot-air balloon accident.

Associate Head Coach, Ginny Doyle, and Director of Basketball Operations, Natalie Lewis, were two of the three killed in the accident along with pilot Daniel T. Kirk.

The balloon was one of a number of balloons in flight as a part of a preview night for the Mid-Atlantic Balloon Festival when it hit a power line and burst into flames.

Doyle was a Richmond basketball standout prior to serving at the University for 16 seasons. Lewis, a 2011 Richmond grad who, began her career with Spider Athletics in 2012 and was a part of three Atlantic 10 championship swimming teams.

“Words cannot begin to express our sorrow,” Keith Gill, director of athletics said in the University’s official release. “We are all stunned by the tragic news. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their loved ones.”

“As alumnae, classmates, and colleagues – and as invaluable and devoted mentors for our student-athletes – Ginny and Natalie have been beloved members of our community,” added President Edward L. Ayers. “Their leadership and friendship will endure in the lives of so many.”

The University has arranged counselors to assist faculty, students and staff as they deal with the sudden loss of Doyle and Lewis.

Our thoughts and prayers are with them as well.

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Mat Shelton-Eide has been involved in college athletics since 2007, starting as a co-founder of VCURamNation.com where he covered the Rams all the way to Houston as the one-time CAA darling shocked the hoops world with a historic run to the Final 4. He has worked within two Atlantic 10 athletic departments, first as a graduate assistant in the VCU Sports Information Department during the '09-'10 basketball season, then after receiving his M.Ed. from VCU's Center for Sport Leadership, as a ticketing and marketing intern in the University of Richmond's athletic department during the inaugural season of Richmond's Robins Stadium, months before the Spiders 2011 Sweet 16 run.

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