Deadliest hot air balloon disaster killed 16 after pilot hit overhead power line

One of the deadliest-ever hot air balloon disasters occurred after a reportedly depressed pilot flew the balloon into overhead power cables, killing 16.

The accident, which happened six years ago today (July 30), left all passengers dead including the pilot, who is said to have had a "pattern of poor decision-making" on the day of the crash.

It marks the second-worst balloon-oriented disaster in history, after a fatal crash in Lockhart, Texas was brought on by a collision with power lines.

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The horrifying incident marked new legislation for stricter checks on balloon pilots as well as an FBI evidence recovery operation at the site of the crash.

A balloon operated under the Heart of Texas Balloon Ride company departed at 06:58 and struck power lines at 07:42, crashing into a field and killing everyone on board.

Emergency services responded just two minutes later to a possible vehicle accident, where they found the basket of the balloon on fire.

A National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) investigation determined that the accident was caused by the pilot of the vehicle, Alfred G. "Skip" Nichols.

The safety board had determined that the pilot's medical conditions of depression and ADHD, as well as the prescription drugs he was taking at the time, were contributing factors to the fatal crash.

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A statement from Texas congressmen Lloyd Dogget, Will Hurd and former U.S. Rep Blake Farenthold, read: "Had the pilot in this crash been required to obtain a medical certificate, the NTSB believes he would not have been flying that morning.

"This is a victory for the victims’ families in Bexar County and elsewhere who petitioned for this action."

The statement, reported by San Antonio Express-News came just over two years after the crash had occurred, with new legislature tightening medical exams for commercial balloon pilots.

Heart of Texas Hot Air Balloon Rides ceased operations soon after the incident, with its owner dying in the accident.


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