LOCKHART, Texas (AP) – Police say the pilot of a hot air balloon that crashed in Texas and killed all 16 people aboard had been arrested in Missouri for driving while intoxicated in 2000.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported in 2008 that the Better Business Bureau there had warned consumers about doing business with Alfred “Skip” Nichols after complaints about his balloon touring company.
Forty-nine-year-old Nichols was identified as the pilot of the Texas balloon by his friend and roommate Alan Lirette, who said that Nichols was a good pilot.
Federal investigators say the balloon hit high-tension power lines before crashing into a pasture early Saturday morning. One witness who lives a quarter-mile from the site reported a fireball going up.
Investigators are focusing on interviewing witnesses, starting Monday with the ground crew.