U.S. News


Authorities Identify 5 Victims In Hot Air Balloon Crash

Gondola was severed after balloon hit a power line in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Posted at 4:07 PM, Jun 27, 2021

Authorities have released the names of the five people who died after a hot air balloon crashed in Albuquerque, New Mexico. 

Mayor Tim Keller said, "We want to offer our condolences to the families."

All were Albuquerque residents: two older couples and the pilot — 62-year-old Nicholas Meleski — who had been licensed to fly balloons since 1994. On Saturday, the basket detached from the balloon after it hit a power line. The basket fell about 100 feet to the median of a busy city street before catching on fire.

"If you have ballooned, there are always things that can happen, whether it's wind, whether it's equipment," Mayor Kelley said. "And it's something that our pilots always train for, but it's always something that it can inherently sometimes occur."

Albuquerque Police Department Chief Harold Medina said, "No matter how big we think we are, we're still a tight-knit community and incidents like this affect us all."

According to National Transportation Safety Board data, there have been 12 fatal hot air ballooning accidents in the U.S. since 2008.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.