4 Killed, 1 Injured In Hot-Air Balloon Crash

A hot-air balloon crashed in the Arizona desert on Sunday morning, causing the death of four people and the critical injury of one. The incident happened in the early hours of the morning, as officers responded to the scene just before 8 a.m.

According to authorities, 13 people had been in the balloon before it crashed. However, eight skydivers jumped out, leaving five people in the balloon, including the pilot and four other passengers, who bore the brunt of the crash.

One of the four who died was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. The three others made it to a local hospital, but succumbed to their wounds later. The fifth person in the balloon when it crashed sustained serious injuries and was airlifted to a hospital. They were reportedly in critical condition as at the time of this reporting.

The Eloy Police Department issued a statement, writing, “We are working closely with federal agencies, including the NTSB and FAA, to investigate the cause of this tragic event. While we continue our efforts, we ask for your thoughts and support for the families and loved ones affected during this difficult time.”

The identities of the victims have not been released. However, ABC15 reported that 28-year-old Katie Bartrom was one of the casualties. Bartrom reportedly was a nurse from Fort Wayne in Indiana who loved skydiving, according to her mother, Jennifer Hubartt.

Jennifer told the news outlet that Bartrom had traveled to Arizona with friends as part of an adventure.

“I talked to her while she was down there and she was really enjoying the experience and having fun and seeing a new place that she had never seen before,” she said.

The cause of the incident is still unclear. According to authorities, the incident is being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board to determine the cause of the crash.

However, Eloy Mayor Micah Powell reportedly said witnesses on the ground that caught the crash said that the balloon had seemed like it was deflated as it made its way to the ground.

Eloy Police Chief Byron Gwaltney hinted at some catastrophic failure which he said must have happened after the eight skydivers jumped from the balloon. He is hoping that investigators can find clues from cell phone footage taken during the ride.