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Pilot falls to death in Vermont hot air balloon accident

Four passengers were in the hot air balloon, Vermont State Police said. All of them survived.

The pilot of a hot air balloon died after he got trapped underneath the basket and fell to the ground near the border of New Hampshire and Vermont, authorities said Thursday.

Late Thursday afternoon, the pilot and four passengers took off from Post Mills Airport in Thetford, Vermont, according to Vermont State Police. At some point, the balloon began to descend and briefly touched the ground, causing the basket to tip and a passenger to fall out.

"During this sequence, the pilot became entangled in gear affixed to the balloon as it re-ascended and ended up entrapped underneath the basket, where he eventually fell to the ground from a height," police said. It was unclear how far he fell from the basket.

The pilot, who authorities did not identify, landed in a field off Waits River Road in Vermont and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The hot air balloon continued to travel north for about 1.5 miles before it got caught in a grove of trees in Piermont, New Hampshire. The three remaining passengers in the basket were able to climb down to safety, state police said.

None of the four passengers was injured in the accident.

The Chief Medical Examiner's Office in Burlington will conduct an autopsy to determine the cause and manner of death.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the accident, the agency said in a tweet.