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Sheriff: Missing balloon pilot's body found

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By JEFF MARTIN and TOM BREEN
Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) -- A sheriff says searchers have found the body of a hot-air balloon pilot who went missing after he was hit by a thunderstorm in Georgia.

Ben Hill County Sheriff Bobby McLemore said a helicopter spotted the balloon, and searchers on the ground then found the body 63-year-old Edward Ristaino of Cornelius, NC.

A fast-developing thunderstorm sucked in his balloon while he was ferrying skydivers on Friday, then sent the craft plummeting toward the ground. The skydivers parachuted to safety.

They credit Ristaino with finding them a field to safely jump into then telling them to get out of the balloon.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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