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Views: 1134, Date:31/Jul/2016

Pilot, 4 passengers in hot air balloon crash identified

CALDWELL COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Three of the victims who were in the hot air balloon that crashed in a field west of Lockhart Saturday morning have been identified.

Alfred “Skip Nichols,” Pilot

The pilot, Alfred “Skip” Nichols, died with 15 others when the balloon crashed next to power transmission lines off of State Highway 142. Officials have not confirmed whether or not the lines were a factor in the crash.

CNN confirmed the pilot’s identity after speaking with Alan Lirette, the ground crew supervisor who was working with Heart of Texas Hot Air Balloon Rides.

Lirette said he helped load the other 15 passengers into the basket of the hot air balloon, called the “gondola.” Lirette called Nichols his “best friend, boss and roommate,” in an interview at his home in Kyle.

The balloon operator said he was speaking to the FAA about the crash and that there did not appear to be any children on board.

“[Nichols] was a great pilot,” he said.

Paige Brabson and Lorilee Brabson 

Lorilee Brabson Martinez, left, and her daughter Paige Brabson (Facebook/YouTube Photos)

Lorilee Brabson, left, and her daughter Paige Brabson (Facebook/YouTube Photos)

Paige and her mother, Lorilee, were on the balloon that crashed, family confirmed Sunday. Paige had her first child a few months ago and the trip was a Mother’s Day gift from Paige to her mom.

A family member asked people to pray for his family.

The mother and daughter are from San Antonio.

The crash is the deadliest hot air balloon incident in American history, and the second deadliest worldwide.

Sunday and Matt Rowan

A Snapchat photo of Matt and Sunday Rowan prior to the hot air balloon ride. (Snapchat Photo)

A Snapchat photo of Matt and Sunday Rowan prior to the hot air balloon ride. (Snapchat Photo)

The couple was originally from Springfield, Mo.

“The thought they suffered, it just hurts my heart,” said a friend in Springfield to NBC News.


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