Hot Air Balloon Pilot’s Drug Use Found to Be Contributing Factor in Deadly Crash

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 By Warner Todd Huston  August 19, 2023 at 2:27pm Facebook

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Authorities are now saying that the pilot in a hot air balloon crash that killed five people in 2021 used marijuana and cocaine before he climbed aboard the aircraft.

The balloon crashed into a power line in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on June 26, 2021.

“The gondola of the balloon skirted along the top wire, caught on fire and crashed into the intersection,” Albuquerque Police Department spokesman Gilbert Gallegos told CNN at the time.

“Unfortunately, when police and fire officials arrived they found four deceased on site.” The fifth person was found critically injured and later died of his injuries at a local hospital.

Killed in the crash were Susan and John Montoya, Martin and Mary Martinez, and balloon pilot Nicholas Meleski. It was the deadliest balloon accident in New Mexico history.

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An investigation into the incident was launched by the National Transportation Safety Board, and now authorities say they have some results.

Firstly, the NTSB investigators said they found no mechanical malfunctions or failures, according to KOB-TV.

Meleski failed to maintain an adequate distance from the power lines while attempting to land the craft, the investigators said. While that seems like a “Captain Obvious” statement, they added something that clarifies matters a bit.

Would you ever fly in a hot air balloon?

Yes: 37% (111 Votes)

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“Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s use of impairing, illicit drugs,” the report said.

The investigators discovered that Meleski had used pot “within the last few hours” before taking off and also had cocaine in his system.

“Some impairing effects of THC would likely have been present, that would have affected the pilot’s ability to successfully operate the balloon,” the report said.

Unsurprisingly, the family of at least two of the passengers has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Meleski and Hot Air Balloonatics, the company he worked for, according to another report from KOB.

Sadly, cannabis use has become socially acceptable these days, and many people have been fooled into thinking the drug is harmless because so many state governments are sanctioning its use so they can reap tax rewards.

Related:

Pot Use is Up for All Age Groups in US, But One Alarming Demographic is Trying it the Most: Study

But pot is a dangerous, intoxicating drug and one has to assume there has been an increase in people driving and going to work high.

How many jobs become instantly deadly when an employee is under the influence of legal pot?

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

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