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Hot Air Balloon Crash Leaves Four Dead, One Critically Injured

Four people were killed and one critically injured Sunday in a hot air balloon crash in Arizona, police said.

The tragic incident happened at approximately 7:50 a.m. in a desert area in Eloy, a small town with a population just over 15,000, and some 65 miles northwest of Phoenix known as “the skydiving capital of the world.”

The cause of the crash was not immediately known.

The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration were leading the investigation.

One of the victims was identified by their family as 28-year-old Katie Bartrom.

Her mother told ABC 15 that Bartrom was a registered nurse from Indiana who enjoyed skydiving and adventure.

The identities of the other victims were being withheld pending notification of their next of kin.

It was not immediately clear if or how the victims knew each other.

Eloy Mayor Micah Powell said that 13 people had been aboard the balloon.

Eight skydivers, who jumped before the crash, four passengers and a pilot, were initially together.

The mayor told the New York Times that a witness saw the final moments leading up to the balloon’s crash and said it was deflated and coming straight down.

The chief of the Eloy Police Department, Byron Gwaltney, said some type of catastrophic failure happened, according to the NY Times.

“The Eloy Police Department regretfully confirms that there are four deceased individuals and one person in critical condition as a result of this incident,” the department said in a statement.

“Further information will be provided as it becomes available. We thank the community for their support and understanding as we navigate this tragic event.”

Eloy is home to two parachute manufacturers: Firebird USA and Sun Path Products, as well as the world’s largest skydive drop zone, Skydive Arizona, which is located around five miles from the site of the balloon crash.

An employee answering the phone declined to comment late Sunday afternoon.

  • April says:

    They had to be quite high to have shy divers on board. I rode one that seemed to be very low–we could yell down to people on the ground. It was quite exciting and I can see people doing this. My sincere condolences to the families of these people. Tragic

    • D says:

      I have been on Hot Air Balloon rides before, they can go very high. But most of the time they stay lower for the sight seeing.

  • Hank and Skank says:

    This article is poorly written. Was it a sky diving accident or a hot air balloon accident? Did the sky divers crash into the hot air balloon? Sounds like two separate incidents with zero sentence(s) conjoining the two.

    My condolences go out to all the families who lost their loved ones.

    • Tamirose170 says:

      There were 13 people initially in the Hot Air Balloon. 8 jumped from the Hot Air Balloon – they were the SKY DIVERS who successfully landed and are fine. That left 5 people still on board. 13-8=5 Of those 5, one was the “Pilot” and 4 others. Now we have 4 deceased and 1 in critical condition but they are not releasing the names of 4 of them, just the 28 yo nurse.

      I didn’t have any problem with Comprehension of what I read, strange isn’t it? Maybe society has just gotten SO critical, and folks just BASH instantly without slowing down and reading the article thoroughly with minimal critical thinking skills involved? I’m not sure. You can also confirm MY ANALYSIS and MATH by looking at any of the News Highlights that even in the Title of most, state 8 Skydivers survived.

  • Cary says:

    Eloy is not northwest of Phoenix. It’s south.

    • Richard Mundy says:

      Yes, Cary, the person who wrote the article, does not know where Eloy is, it is west of Tucson AZ. I lived in Tucson for 5 years. I’m very sorry to hear about the tragedy and my condolences to the families that lost their loved ones.

      • Gramm says:

        According to Wikipedia: Eloy is a city in Pinal County, Arizona, United States, approximately 50 miles northwest of Tucson and about 65 miles southeast of Phoenix.

        My condolences to the families of the loved ones.



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