SAN DIEGO (AP) _ A balloon released by a girl in hopes its anti-smoking message would reach her grandmother, who also lives in San Diego, instead was swept 2,000 miles into the arms of a Virginia deer hunter, who was smoking.

The trip took roughly 26 1/2 hours, for an average speed of about 75 mph.

Melissa Ward, a 10-year-old third grader, and her classmates at San Diego's Clay Elementary School released 350 helium-filled balloons Wednesday, the day before the Great American Smokeout.

Each balloon had a tag attached with a student's first name, the school's address, and carried a message: ''Please Don't Smoke.''

The next person to see Melissa's balloon was Raymond Sheets, 39, an equipment operator for the Virginia state highway department, who was walking through a field outside Sugar Grove in Virginia's western tip.

''I was coming out from deer hunting,'' Sheets said. ''I was using a flashlight, you know, 'cause it was getting hazy to walk in. ... The balloon, I guess it was holding about a foot off the ground.

''I was smoking a cigarette when I found it,'' he said. ''That's the first thing I saw - 'Please Don't Smoke.'''

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Former Iowa Secretary of State Mary Jane Odell lost her chance to testify in the hearings on the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Robert Bork, but her trip east was not a complete waste.

Mrs. Odell, 64, a widow, had a chance to renew her acquaintance with a longtime family friend, New York advertising executive Ralph Siegler, 65.

They were to be married Sunday in a private ceremony in Des Moines.

A mutual friend of Mrs. Odell and Siegler, Donna Vicari, had been trying to get the two together for years, Mrs. Odell said.

When she heard Mrs. Odell was going to Washington last month for the Bork hearings, Mrs. Vicari fired off a telegram to her, urging her to make a side trip to New York.

Mrs. Vicari had introduced Mrs. Odell and her husband, John, to Siegler and his wife 21 years ago; John Odell died in 1984; Siegler's wife died in 1983.

Mrs. Odell never did get to testify at the Bork hearing. She was bumped from the list of witnesses.