VENICE (LALATE) – The search for Richard Abruzzo and Carol Rymer-Davis, the missing U.S. balloonists, was widened today in Italy. Richard Abruzzo and Carol Rymer-Davis went missing yesterday morning after entry in the 54th Gordon Bennett Gas Balloon Race. Abruzzo and Davis are from Albuquerque and had traveled to compete in the world’s oldest balloon race days ago.
On Saturday, they started from Bristol, England. They were last seen Wednesday monring. Italy search and rescue forces have been joined by military resources; four coast guard ships, a helicopter, miliatry planes, and a long range plane station have been deployed to aid in the search. Italian resources have been sent from as far as the Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily.
Dario Kirincic, head of the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center in Rijeka, Croatia, told news today that the balloonists last had contact in Brindisi around 6:15 am local time Wednesday. Meteorologist Luc Trullemans was the last to speak with one of them. Trullemans reports thunderstorms at the time; he does not know how high the balloon was at that point. Some suggest altitudes may have been around 9,000 feet
The pair won the Gordon Bennett cup in 2004 from Thionville, France to Vannas, Sweden. Abruzzo is 47, Davis is 65.
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson issued a news statement confirming that he has asked for U.S. military search and rescue be sent by U.S. State Department officials promptly. “I’ve been following the search for Richard and Carol all day and I’m optimistic that they will be located soon. I’ve been in contact with the Abruzzo family and have offered any help they need in getting Richard back home to them safely. My thoughts are also with Carol’s family as they await word on their loved one.”