Victims of Texas Hot Air Balloon Crash Identified


The victims of the nation’s most deadly hot air balloon crash were being memorialized Monday on social media while investigators in Texas continued to pursue the cause of the tragedy.

All 16 people aboard died Saturday when the balloon crashed in a field 30 miles south of Austin. National Transportation Safety Board member Robert Sumwalt said Monday that it was “pretty suspicious” that the balloon was found directly under power lines, but he said it had not been determined whether the power lines caused the crash or if the balloon was already on fire when it hit them.

“We are trying to put together a timeline for exactly how this tragic event unfolded,” he told ABC News. “We’re making good progress but we still have a long way to go.”

Sumwalt said the ground crew for pilot Alfred “Skip” Nichols, operator of Heart of Texas Hot Air Balloon Rides, would be interviewed Monday. Among questions to be answered is why the doomed flight was delayed 20 minutes. Information from cellphones and cameras retrieved from the crash site also was being reviewed.

Weather at San Marcos Municipal Airport, about 6 miles west of the site, was overcast with visibility of 2 miles, according to the National Weather Service.

Families and loved ones of friends were memorializing the victims online. A YouTube video pays tribute to Lorilee Brabson and her daughter, Paige. A gofundme page was set up by Paige’s grandmother, Patricia Morgan, for Paige’s 11-month-old daughter.

“Unfortunately, Paige was uninsured,” the page says. “She was a hard and dedicated worker at La Hacienda restaurant in San Antonio. In lieu of flowers any donations will go to help assist the family and her daughter.”

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SOURCE: USA Today, John Bacon