A hot air balloon crashed near Lockhart, Texas, at the end of July. There were 16 people aboard, including the pilot, and all were killed in the accident. The exact details of the crash are not clear yet, but what is known is that the hot air balloon caught fire in flight. It may have hit power lines as it came down to the ground. The National Transportation Safety Board is in charge of the investigation, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been asked to assist. The organizations may determine if anyone was at fault for the tragedy or whether it was an accident not caused by anyone’s negligence. Car, truck, and even airplane accidents are much more common than hot air balloon crashes, but there is the potential for danger in any form of transportation. If you were hurt or a loved one was killed in an uncommon accident, contact an experienced Austin wrongful death attorney for help today.
One of the Worst Hot Air Balloon in Crashes in History
The loss of 16 lives makes this one of the worse hot air balloon accidents in decades. However, the event is not unprecedented. In 2013, a hot air balloon accident in Egypt killed 19 individuals. Only two people survived the accident, which authorities believe was caused by a torn gas hose. In 2012, there were two significant hot air balloon accidents. One killed 11 people in New Zealand, and another killed six and injured many others in Slovenia. Before Egypt and now Texas, the deadliest known air balloon crash was in 1989 when 13 people were killed in Australia. The pilot of that balloon was convicted of committing a dangerous act and sent to prison for two years.
Hot Air Balloon Oversight
The Federal Aviation Administration has created standards for piloting hot air balloons and Texas has its own required for individuals who want private or commercial licenses to drive these vehicles. To become a licensed pilot in Texas, individuals must go through schooling and flight training. They must be able to pass a written exam, complete a number or flight hours with a certified hot air balloon commercial pilot as well as solo, pass a practical flight assessment, and complete a health authorization form.
There are some licensing requirements in place, but there remains the question of whether they are enough and once people are pilots, if anyone is paying attention to them. These questions are at the forefront of the current Texas tragedy as it has come to light that the pilot of the downed hot air balloon had four convictions for drunk driving and a history of drug use.
The pilot would have had to report these offenses had he applied for a commercial airplane pilot’s license with the FAA. However, he did not have to disclose these DUI or drug-related convictions to get a hot air balloon license. Additionally, pilots are supposed to disclose to the FAA any alcohol or drug offenses that occur while they have their licenses, but there is no oversight for whether hot air balloon pilots do this or not.
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As of right now, there is no evidence of fault on the part of the pilot. However, in these types of crashes, they may have been an unavoidable accident or caused by someone’s negligence. If your loved one was killed in a similar or unique accident, contact the passionate New Braunfels wrongful death attorneys of The Bettersworth Law Firm right away. We will begin an investigation into your situation to determine if you can bring a wrongful death claim to recover for your loss.