Hot Air Balloon Crash Kills 16 (Updated)
Witnesses in Texas say that a fiery balloon crash that killed 16 occupants Saturday may have been caused by contact with high-voltage power lines at the crash site. The balloon's envelope was found nearly intact three quarters of a mile from the crash site and the gondola was completely charred nearby. The balloon crashed about 7:40 a.m. near Lockhart, Texas, south of Austin.
One witness told The Associated Press that she saw a huge fireball as the balloon went down. Margaret Wylie lives near the crash site in a rural area and said she was letting her dog out early Saturday when she heard a “pop, pop, pop,” and immediately called 911. “I looked around and it was like a fireball going up,” she said, explaining that the flames were located under or near the power lines.
The names and number of victims had not been confirmed early Saturday morning, but the accident is the worst balloon accident on record in the U.S. Although balloon accidents are relatively rare, many do involve contact with power lines, according to NTSB records. Erik Grosof of the NTSB told reporters late Saturday that the accident would result in a "significant" investigation. The agency has dispatched a full go team to the site. AVweb will have more information as it becomes available.