Report: Pilot of Fatal Balloon Crash Had Drugs in System – WDVM25 & DCW50

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FILE – In this file photo from June 26, 2021, a bouquet of flowers from a grieving person is placed near the nacelle of a crashed hot air balloon in Albuquerque, NM A Federal Aviation Administration report shows the pilot of a hot air balloon that crashed in New Mexico in June had marijuana and cocaine in his system. Pilot Nicholas Meleski died with his four passengers after the balloon was seen descending into the sky over Albuquerque. It struck power lines on the way down before crashing into a busy intersection. (AP Photo / Andres Leighton, file)

ALBUQUERQUE, NM (AP) – A report from the Federal Aviation Administration shows that the pilot of a hot air balloon that crashed in New Mexico in June had marijuana and cocaine in his body.

Pilot Nicholas Meleski died with his four passengers after the balloon descended into the sky over Albuquerque, struck power lines and crashed at a busy intersection.

Meleski’s family told Albuquerque station KOB-TV that they were reviewing a copy of the toxicology report and asking for confidentiality.

The FAA did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment on the report.

The National Transportation Safety Board has yet to rule on the cause of the June 26 crash. Although the board did not provide much information on why the balloon collided with power lines, a preliminary report released in July detailed the moments leading up to the crash, such as The surveillance video of the surrounding businesses shows this.

Witnesses also told investigators that the balloon envelope separated from the pod after hitting power lines and flew away. He was found a few kilometers south of the crash site.

The passengers killed in the crash were Mary Martinez, her husband Martin and their friends Susan and John Montoya.

Martin Martinez worked for years as an Albuquerque Police Officer and later as an Albuquerque School District Officer. Mary Martinez, a mother of two, was a volunteer and loved helping people. Susan Montoya was a vice-principal and her husband worked with special education students.

Federal officials have said the balloon crash was the deadliest on record in New Mexico history and the second deadliest in the United States since 2016. New Mexico hosts an annual international balloon fiesta that attracts hundreds of pilots and tens of thousands of spectators from around the world each October.


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