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Hot-air balloon crash in Albuquerque kills 5, including ex-cop

Hot-air balloon crash in Albuquerque kills 5, including ex-cop

Five people were killed when a hot-air balloon crashed into a power line in Albuquerque, N.M. Saturday morning — including the parents of a police officer, according to a report.

“This is tragedy that’s uniquely felt in Albuquerque,” Mayor Tim Keller said in a news conference Saturday afternoon.

The city boasts a vibrant ballooning culture and hosts the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta each year.

Martin Martinez, 59, and Mary Martinez, 62, the parents of an Albuquerque Police Department prison transport officer, were among the victims, officials said. Martin Martinez also is a former APD officer.

The passenger basket detached from the balloon and plummeted to the ground, Albuquerque police said.

Albuquerque Fire Rescue crews work on victims of the fatal balloon crash.
Albuquerque Fire Rescue crews work on victims of the fatal balloon crash.
Adolphe Pierre-Louis/The Albuquerque Journal via AP
A hot-air balloon envelope falls from the sky near Unser and Central SW in Albuquerque, N.M.
The parents of an Albuquerque Police Department prison transport officer were killed in the tragedy.
Adolphe Pierre-Louis/The Albuquerque Journal via AP
Pilot Ursula Richards, left, comforts fellow pilot Buzz Biernacki at the scene of the fatal hot-air balloon crash.
Pilot Ursula Richards, left, comforts fellow pilot Buzz Biernacki at the scene of the fatal hot-air balloon crash.
dolphe Pierre-Louis/The Albuquerque Journal via AP

The names of the other victims were not released.

“To see a balloon go down like this, it’s heart-breaking,” witness Joshua Perez told KOB 4 TV.

Other witnesses reported on social media watching the deflated balloon fall to the ground. It crashed into the yard of a local home.

The Federal Aviation Administration has taken over the investigation, and said the basket fell about 100 feet before crashing onto a street and catching fire.

Albuquerque mayor Tim Keller, second from left, is briefed by officials
Albuquerque mayor Tim Keller, second from left, is briefed by officials.
Andres Leighton/AP
Deflated hot air balloon falls from the sky in Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S. June 26, 2021.
The basket attached to the ballon came off and fell toward the ground.
Gelacio Ramirez via Reuters
The basket of the fatal balloon crash is seen lying on the pavement as police officers inspect the area in Albuquerque, N.M.
The FAA said the basket fell about 100 feet and then caught on fire.
Andres Leighton/AP

“We know from experience here in Albuquerque that sometimes winds kick up or things happen that make it difficult for balloons to navigate,” police spokesman Gilbert Gallegos told reporters. “We’re not sure the cause of this at this point. Obviously, the FAA will look into this and determine what the cause was.”

About 13,000 customers lost power because of the crash, according to electricity provider PNM, but power was restored by Saturday afternoon.

About the author

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James Partridge

James has worked in various news organizations and now aims to make Stock Market Pioneer one of the best and fastest growing news websites in the U.S. He contributes to the US and World sections.

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