Dec 6, 2010

Remains of US balloonists discovered in nets of Italian fishing boat

The bodies of two American balloonists and their gondola were discovered in the net of an Italian fishing boat on Monday, two months after they disappeared while competing in a race over the Adriatic Sea during a fierce storm.

The boat hauled in the balloon and its gondola with the bodies of the Americans still inside while fishing 11 miles (17 kilometers) north of Vieste, said Port Cmdr. Guido Limongelli in Vieste, a town on the spur of boot-shaped Italy jutting into the Adriatic sea.

Reporters stand beside the Italian fishing boat.

Documents found in the gondola (pictured above) confirmed the identities of Richard Abruzzo, 47, of Albuquerque, and Carol Rymer Davis, 65, of Denver.

Davis (left) and Abruzzo (right) are pictured above

The balloonists were taking part in the Gordon Bennett International Balloon Race when they lost contact with their support team on Sept 29.

A large search operation was called off a week after authorities concluded that the pair had probably died on impact after their balloon plunged into the sea at an estimated 50mph.

The Italian fishermen made the discovery about 12 miles from shore and six miles from the balloon's last known location.