A fiery hot air balloon accident west of Houston has left no survivors, according to investigators. The accident, which occurred early Saturday morning and which is believed to have killed at least 16 people, is being described as the worst hot air balloon accident in U.S. history.
The crash site is located in Lockhart, just 30 miles south of Austin, in a large pasture studded with four- to five-story power lines. The witness who called 911 described hearing loud popping noises in succession around 7:40 A.M., followed by a large fireball that shot up into the air, nearly reaching the top of the power lines. The exact cause of the accident and the number of victims is still under investigation. It appears that Heart of Texas Hot Air Balloon Rides, which operates hot air balloons in Houston, Austin, and San Antonio, is not registered with the state.
This accident comes after the National Transportation Safety Board’s recommendation to the Federal Aviation Administration that hot air balloon operators be subject to regulation and periodic safety inspections. The FAA rejected this proposal, claiming that the risk of an accident was minimal. In the aftermath of this accident, the FAA will likely reconsider the NTSB’s recommendations.
The Daspit Law Firm is saddened by news of this tragic accident and extends deepest sympathy to the families and friends of the victims. We hope that swift action is taken to ensure that that this type of accident does not occur again in the future, and recognize that this begins with the FAA stepping up to ensure that hot air balloon companies and operators are held to greater safety standards.
If you are seeking justice after an accident, a Houston personal injury lawyer at The Daspit Law Firm can help. Contact us today to speak with an attorney during a free consultation.