Ryan Almeter remembered as someone who "knew how to live life the right way"

NUNDA — A strange accident claimed the life of a popular Keshequa teacher and balloonist on Friday night on Picket Line Road in Nunda.

 

Geneseo-based State Police said Ryan Almeter, 34, had just completed a flight and was restraining the basket, allowing passengers to get off, when wind caused the balloon to take off again. Troopers said the balloon reached about 100 feet when Almeter let go and fell to his death.

 

A photo taken by a Hornell Evening Tribune employee shows the balloon landing and the trees still with no evidence of wind — ideal conditions for a balloon ride.

 

Almeter lived in Bliss and taught math for eight years at Keshequa in the high school. He was a Letchworth Central School graduate.

 

Abijah Gath teaches high school biology and living environmental sciences at Keshequa and was a friend of Almeter's.

 

"He was a wonderful guy who would do anything for anybody. He worked with students, helped staff members and wore his emotions on his sleeves — he wasn't afraid to stand up for what he believed in when it came to the school, the faculty and the students, with the school, faculty and students," said Gath.

 

He was passionate about his job which also gained him respect, Gath said, and Almeter always volunteered at the school.

 

"He ran Chess Club, a math team and put on a lot of math competitions in the school. If anything came along, he was willing to do it for the kids," said Gath.

 

Almeter and his wife, Sarah, have three children.

 

"He always put his family first. He was just talking about taking his son to Little League baseball and hanging out with his family at Yellowstone Park. He always made time for family," said Gath.

 

"Ryan knew how to live life the right way. He was caring and willing to stand up what he believed in and stood up for others. He was a great role model and a great guy."

 

The Almeters attended the same church in Warsaw and most recently Perry.


Calvin Smith is the campus pastor at the Coleman Memorial Free Methodist Church, the Perry campus of Valley Chapel.

 

"Ryan was just a dynamic member of the church and served any way fit," said Smith. "His whole family are really dear and loved by us. It's a big blow to the congregation. He loved his wife very much and his kids ... he poured himself into everything he did, he was a tremendous person."

 

Friends say he had been a balloonist for at least six years. It appeared he was flying for Balloons Over Letchworth, a company in business since 1987 and well known for its participation at the New York State Festival of Balloons in Dansville and the Great Wellsville Balloon Rally.

 

Troopers said they contacted the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board to assist in the investigation.

 

A Keshequa senior and a 2012 graduate shared their thoughts on Almeter and what he meant to them:

 

“Mr. Almeter believed in each and every one of his students. Even the students that didn't believe in themselves. Hearing the news of his death was an absolute shock. This was such a tragic accident that caused Mr. Almeter to die doing something that he loved. This is what I will take peace in. Right before Mr. Almeter passed he was having the time of his life, helping his crew, living his life, doing what he loved to do. My condolences go to his family who lost him way too soon. The students of Keshequa will continue to keep his spirit alive by believing in ourselves and living our lives to the fullest just like Mr. Almeter always did. Rest in peace Mr. Almeter, Keshequa will never be quite the same without you.”

— Kayla Yencer, Senior Class of 2016


“Such a tragic accident.. Mr. Almeter, you were such a great teacher and man. You put up with all my bullshit and helped me through high school even though I fought with you every step of the way. You always saw the best in me. Without you, I'm certain I wouldn't have graduated. You will forever be missed by the Keshequa community. He was an awesome man who really cared about his students and what he did. He was one of my favorites.”

— Shennon Mann, Class of 2012