NTSB: Video captured deadly balloon crash

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Albuquerque Fire Rescue personnel work on the victims of the fatal Balloon crash at Unser and Central on June 26. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

National Transportation Safety Board investigators have obtained surveillance video footage that captured the hot air balloon crash that killed two couples and a pilot late last month on Albuquerque’s West Side.

A preliminary accident report published by the NTSB late Friday doesn’t provide much insight into why the balloon collided with power lines near a busy intersection. But it does detail the moments leading up to the deadliest balloon crash in state history.

It left Martin Martinez, 62, Mary Martinez, 59, Susan Montoya, 65, John Montoya, 61, and pilot Nick Meleski, 62, dead.

Video from local area businesses shows that, at around 7 a.m., the balloon started to climb as it neared the intersection of Central and Unser NW. The balloon then descended into the power lines as it crossed “about perpendicular to the wires.”

“Shortly thereafter, the balloon contacted a high-tension power line, an arc appeared and the basket separated from the envelope,” the report states.

Witnesses told investigators the basket then fell onto the roadway as the envelope floated away; it was found two miles south from the crash site.

The report notes that wind speed at the time of the crash was 11 knots, or just over 12 mph. It also cautions: “This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors.”

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