A pilot with the international hot air balloon festival has died following an accident near Mont-St-Grégoire, Que.


Mont-St-Grégoire is located near this weekend's festival in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu. (Google Maps)

Maxime Trépanier, 26, was rushed to hospital in a "critical state" after an accident at about 7:30 a.m. today in Mont-St-Grégoire, which is near the festival in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu.

His death was confirmed this afternoon by Marie-Claude Beauvais, the head of marketing with the festival.

"It's a tragic day," Beauvais said.

She said Trépanier, whose father was also a hot air balloon pilot, had been around hot air balloons since his childhood. He grew up to be one of the pilots with the festival's own fleet.

To pay homage to the pilot and father of two, the festival is grounding its balloons for the evening. Beauvais said they will light-up at about 6:30 p.m. in memory of Trépanier.

Beauvais said the festival, which is marking its 30th anniversary, will continue as planned, but with a more sombre tone.

Quebec provincial police Sgt. Audrey-Anne Bilodeau said police will be investigating the incident.