Four individuals tragically lost their lives while one person sustained injuries following a devastating hot air balloon crash in Eloy on Sunday morning. As authorities continue their investigation into this horrific incident, let’s delve into what we currently know.
The accident occurred at around 7:50 a.m. in the desert area of Sunshine Boulevard and Hanna Road in Eloy, situated approximately 65 miles south of Phoenix. The Eloy Police Department has reported that the Cameron Balloons A160 hot air balloon crashed into the desert terrain due to an unspecified problem with its envelope, as revealed by preliminary information from the National Transportation Safety Board.
The victims of this heart-wrenching event have been identified by Eloy police as Chayton Wiescholek, a 28-year-old from Union City, Michigan; Kaitlynn Bartom, a 28-year-old from Andrews, Indiana; Atahan Kiliccote, a 24-year-old from Cupertino, California; and Cornelius Van Der Walt, a 37-year-old originally from South Africa who resided in Eloy. Van Der Walt was the pilot of the ill-fated hot air balloon.
The National Transportation Safety Board, in conjunction with the Federal Aviation Administration, is currently conducting a comprehensive investigation into the crash. Experts from these agencies are meticulously examining both the scene and the hot air balloon itself. Ultimately, the balloon will be relocated to a secure facility to facilitate further investigation.
It is important to note that the National Transportation Safety Board refrains from speculating about the cause of an incident during an ongoing investigation. The focus remains on gathering as much evidence as possible to determine the root causes of this tragedy.
Our heartfelt condolences go out to the families and friends of the victims during this incredibly difficult time. The Arizona Republic extends its deepest sympathies to those affected by this devastating accident..