5 dead after hot air balloon crashes into power line in New Mexico

·1 min read

Five people, including the parents of an Albuquerque police officer, are dead after a hot air balloon crashed into a power line Saturday morning in New Mexico.

The hot air balloon with five people aboard struck a power line about 6 miles west of the Albuquerque International Sunport, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, which is investigating the crash. The balloon's basket caught fire after crashing into the median of a busy street.

The crash caused power outages in the area, according to a tweet from the Albuquerque Police Department. Police spokesperson Gilbert Gallegos said the multi-colored balloon skirted the tops of power lines, knocking out power to more than 13,000 homes.

One person was taken to a local hospital in critical condition and later died, the Albuquerque Police Department said in a tweet. Traffic was shut down in the area following the crash, according to a tweet from the New Mexico State Police.

Police identified two of the passengers as Martin Martinez, 59, and Mary Martinez, 62 — the parents of a prison transport officer with the Albuquerque Police Department.

Police did not immediately release the others' names but said the male pilot, and a female and male passenger were from central New Mexico.

Francisco said the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board have been notified and are taking over the investigation into what caused the crash.

Albuquerque is a center for hot air ballooning in the U.S. and hosts a nine-day October event that draws crowds of hundreds of thousands. While accidents are uncommon, they can happen, Gallegos said.

“Our balloonists tend to be very much experts at navigating, but sometimes we have these types of tragic accidents,” he said.

Contributing: The Associated Press

Contact News Now Reporter Christine Fernando at cfernando@usatoday.com or follow her on Twitter at @christinetfern.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Hot air balloon crashes into power line in Albuquerque; multiple dead

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