When a hot air balloon carrying the Martinez family was blown toward power lines by strong winds, they were sent into tragedy. A 59-year old law enforcement officer with 26 years of experience and his wife who would have turned 63 this year died in that accident on Albuquerque’s west side Saturday morning around 7 am. Officials are investigating to see if any other passengers survived as well but there is no word yet about their identities or conditions at the time of publication.
Four people were pronounced dead at the scene, while a fifth person died in critical condition after being taken to the hospital. The multicolored balloon skirted power lines and knocked out service for more than 13 thousand homes.
The multicolored balloon skirted the top of power lines, sending at least one dangling and knocking out power to more than 13,000 homes.
The five people involved in this incident were pronounced dead on the scene by police officer Gallegos who spoke with us today. Four died before they even reached the hospital while a fifth person passed away after being transported there for critical care treatment."
Authorities have not yet determined what caused the crash.
The National Transportation Safety Board sent two investigators to the scene Saturday who will look into all aspects of this accident, from piloting errors and possible equipment malfunctions to weather conditions in Albuquerque at that time. The preliminary report is usually available within a couple of weeks after an investigation has begun and can also be found on their website for further reading before it becomes official public knowledge, as well as safety precautions while flying balloons during seasons with an unfavorable meteorological condition such as strong winds or rainstorms.
“We send our deepest condolences to the families who lost loved ones today. This is a tragedy for our city and the ballooning community worldwide,” he said.
Gallegos said hot air balloons can be difficult to manage, particularly when the wind kicks up.
“Our balloonists tend to be very much experts at navigating, but sometimes we have these types of tragic accidents,” he said.
Albuquerque is a mecca for hot air ballooning. The city hosts an annual nine-day event that attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators and pilots from around the world, rivaled only by its picturesque display throughout the year. Albuquerque residents are treated to colorful displays as balloons float over homes or along the nearby Rio Grande during any time of day--no accidents in sight!
A recent hot air ballooning accident resulted in a passenger being ejected from the gondola, who later died. This was just one of twelve fatal accidents that have happened since 2008 according to NTSB data.
One incident occurred outside Albuquerque where two people were injured after experiencing a hard landing and another person died this year when he was thrown out on impact during an even harder landing than before.
The NTSB database lists 12 fatal hot air balloon accidents since 2008, two of which happened in Rio Rancho. This January fatality was caused by a hard landing and passenger ejection from the gondola after being injured on impact.
On October 18th, 2016 at 5:00 am in Texas a hot air balloon hit high-tension power lines before crashing into the ground. All 16 people on board died which is considered to be one of the worst disasters ever experienced by U.S citizens and authorities are still investigating what caused this tragedy that occurred almost two years ago today
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