Hot air balloon crash kills 5 in Albuquerque, New Mexico

The balloon crashed into a power line around Central Avenue and Unser Boulevard, causing a power outage in the area, Albuquerque Police Department (APD) confirmed on Twitter.

“The ball struck the upper threads – the balloon basket hugged the upper thread, caught fire and crashed into the intersection,” APD spokesman Gilbert Gallegos told CNN. “Unfortunately, when police and firefighters arrived, they found four people dead on the scene.”

A fifth person was seriously injured and hospitalized, but succumbed to their injuries, the police said. Of the five people killed, three were men and two were women, Albuquerque police confirmed in a statement.
“Liz and I are heartbroken by the hot air balloon crash this morning,” Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said. tweeted. “This is a terrible tragedy for our city and the hot air balloon community around the world.”

A former officer named as one of the victims

Retired DPA officer Martin Martinez, 59, and his wife Mary Martinez, 62, were among those who died, the mayor said at a press conference.

“Their families are in deep pain right now,” Keller said.

Martinez worked in security at Albuquerque Public Schools, according to Police Chief Harold Medina.

“Sergeant Martinez will be forever remembered for his lifelong dedication, courage and selflessness to the law enforcement profession,” the school district said in a written statement. “He had a long career with both the Albuquerque Police Department and the Albuquerque Public Schools Police Department.”

Although Martinez retired from the police force several years ago, a number of active duty officers who responded to the scene had previously worked with him, according to the chief.

“We had to send a number of officers home,” Medina said. “It cost them dearly. “

“It’s just a very tragic situation,” Gallegos said, reported the Albuquerque Journal. “Our officers who were the first to arrive at the scene struggled to see what they saw. These things are just horrible every time they happen.”

Police do not publicly name the three remaining victims until their families are informed.

The accident remains under investigation

Electricity has been fully restored to affected customers in the incident area, Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) spokeswoman Shannon Jackson told CNN.

More than 13,000 people in the region suffered blackouts as a result of the incident, according to to PNM, which bills itself as the largest electricity company in the state.

“Everyone at PNM is deeply saddened by this tragic loss,” said Jackson. “We are thinking of family and friends affected by today’s events. We will continue to do all we can to support first responders in this evolving situation.”

PNM was unable to re-energize the crash-affected transmission line or restore power until the investigation was completed, Jackson said.

“I am incredibly saddened to learn of this terrible tragedy in Albuquerque,” ​​said New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. tweeted. “My prayers are with the loved ones of those affected.”

The accident is under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board.

The FAA has identified the aircraft as a Cameron 0-120 hot air balloon.

Hot air ballooning is a popular recreational activity in Albuquerque. The city’s International Balloon Fiesta is an iconic annual event each fall, featuring hundreds of balloons.

CNN’s Ganesh Setty, Andy Rose, Chuck Johnston and Kate Trafecante contributed to this report.



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