New Years Honours for West Country

Honours go to the West's businessmen, entrepreneurs and charity workers in this year's New Year's Honours List

Coroner records narrative verdict

A coroner says the death of two men killed in a hot air ballooning accident was likely to have been caused by a lack of experience.

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Experimental balloon found safe

A special, high-altitude balloon that went missing after being launched by school pupils in Somerset six months ago, has been found by a farm worker in a field in Nottinghamshire.

The Mars Balloon which is backed by the UK Space Agency was one of a pair launched in Frome, containing 140 student experiments.

Mars balloon Credit: ITV News West Country

Verdict in Balloon Death Inquest

Inexperience and flying at such high altitude were combining factors in the deaths of two Bristol men who died when their hot air balloon crashed in Somerset, according to the coroner at the inquest into their deaths.

Delivering a narrative verdict, Maria Voisin, at Flax Bourton Coroners Court, said Lee Pibworth and Allan Burnett were inexperienced with some of the equipment they were using and this played a part in the crash that led to their deaths in January last year.

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Inquest hears how a balloon record attempt ended in disaster

An inquest heard the details of the moment a balloon carrying two men plummeted to the ground after attempting to break a high altitude record.

Lee Pipworth and Allan Burnett set off from Chelwood in Somerset, before they came down on a bowling green in Midsomer Norton on New Year's Day last year.

Eyewitnesses from several villages around the crash site have described how they saw the deflated balloon hurtling towards the ground. Richard Lawrence reports.

Balloon deaths inquest: Off duty fireman first to arrive on scene

Martin Coward, a fireman returning from a nightshift in Bath, was the first to arrive on the scene. He also saw the balloon hurtling towards the ground 'very loud and fast'.

When he reached the basket he said he could see a man sitting up inside but no sign of movement. He assumed the man was unconscious but he couldn't reach him because it was too hot.

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