Hot Air Balloon Crash In Central Texas Kills 16

Saturday, July 30th 2016, 12:30 pm
By: News On 6

No one appeared to survive a hot air balloon crash in central Texas, authorities said Saturday.

At least 16 people were on board the balloon, which Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Lynn Lunsford said caught fire before crashing into a pasture shortly after 7:40 a.m. Saturday near Lockhart.

"It went up like a big fireball," Margaret Wylie, who lives near the crash site, told CBS Austin affiliate KEYE-TV.

The Caldwell County Sheriff's Office said in a statement that investigators are determining the number of victims and their identities.

NTSB lead investigator Erik Grosof told reporters during a brief press conference that there was a "significant loss of life" but wouldn't provide a specific number of fatalities.

The sheriff's office said it was apparent that the fire was in the basket portion of the balloon.

Gov. Greg Abbott called the crash a "heartbreaking tragedy."

"I ask all of Texas to join us in praying for those lost," Abbott said in a statement.

The FAA is investigating, Lunsford said. National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Eric Weiss said that his agency's investigative team should arrive later Saturday. Weiss said the safety agency knows "very, very little right now" about what happened.

The land near the crash site is mostly farmland, with corn crops and grazing cattle. Cutting through that farmland is a row of massive high-capacity transmission lines about 4 to 5 stories tall. The site of the crash appears to be right below the overhead lines, though authorities haven't provided further details about what happened.

Lockhart is about 30 miles south of Austin.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.