A deadly tragedy hit Central Texas the early morning of July 30, 2016, when a hot air balloon came crashing to the ground in a literal ball of fire. Federal and local authorities reporting this story believed that the hot air balloon was carrying 16 people at the time of the crash, none of whom survived. Federal Aviation Authority officials said the balloon caught fire before crashing, but did not provide any other details.
The hot air balloon went down around 7:30 a.m. in a pastureland area often used for balloon landings near Lockhart, which is about 30 miles south of Austin. Investigators are trying to ascertain how such calamitous incident could ever occur. Most reports suggest that the hot air balloon came into contact with some power lines. A county judge and public safety official reported that the balloon may have struck power lines. County officials also said it looks like the balloon collided with a power line before catching fire and crashing to the ground. Furthermore, a source with the Texas Department of Public Safety noted that investigators believe the hot air balloon struck power lines and caught fire.
Quite surprisingly, eyewitnesses have commented that it had been a clear day that Saturday morning. Questions then arise of how pilot Alfred “Skip” Nichols was not able avoid the power lines. While wind could have been a factor, it is possible that there may been human error involved. New information has come out that Mr. Nichols had possible prior convictions for DWI and business operations issues. However, currently it is the belief of investigators that the possible cause of the crash is the power lines.
Aerial coverage of the crash site showed ghastly ironic images of the remnants of a flattened balloon with large smiley face wearing sunglasses. What was meant to be a relaxing, recreational time in early morning of the Texas heat, ended in the untimely deaths of 16 people; two of whom were newly married.
If you or someone you know has been injured in this incident or some other type of aviation incident, contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner by calling (713) 222-7211 or toll free at 713-222-7211