Hot Air Balloonist Falls to His Death in New York

(CBSNews) NUNDA, N.Y. -- A hot air balloon handler has died following an accident in upstate New York.

State police say 34-year-old Ryan Almeter was holding onto the basket allowing passengers to get off when wind caused the balloon to take flight Friday night.

The balloon climbed to about 100 feet when Almeter let go of the basket and fell to his death.

The balloon was part of a festival called Balloons Over Letchworth in Livingston County, about 50 miles south of Rochester.

A telephone recording for festival organizers said weather conditions Saturday and Sunday would not allow the festival to continue. The message said no further information would be available until Monday.

Almeter, a husband and father, was a high school math teacher at Keshequa Central School. School Superintendent Thomas Kopp told the Livingston County News, "He wore his passion on his sleeve. You never wondered about how much he loved what he did."

State police say the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board have been contacted about the accident.

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