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4 killed, 1 critically injured in hot air balloon crash in Arizona, police say

Four people were killed and one person was critically injured when a hot air balloon crash-landed in the desert in Eloy, Arizona, on Sunday morning, the Eloy Police Department said.

Thirteen people were on board at the hot air balloon before the crash: eight skydivers, four passengers and the pilot, according to police.

PHOTO: Four people were killed when a hot air balloon crash-landed in the desert in Eloy, Ariz., on Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024. (KNXV)
PHOTO: Four people were killed when a hot air balloon crash-landed in the desert in Eloy, Ariz., on Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024. (KNXV)

The eight skydivers exited the balloon and safely landed on the ground "before any issues with the hot air balloon were evident," police said.

The passengers killed in the crash were: Chayton Wiescholek, 28, of Union City, Michigan; Kaitlynn Bartom, 28, of Andrews, Indiana; and Atahan Kiliccote, 24, of Cupertino, California, police said.

PHOTO: In an undated photograph, Katie Bartom is shown with parachute gear.  (Handout)
PHOTO: In an undated photograph, Katie Bartom is shown with parachute gear. (Handout)

The pilot, 37-year-old Cornelius Van Der Walt, was also killed, police said.

One passenger survived, 23-year-old Valerie Stutterheim, of Scottsdale, Arizona, police said. She is in critical condition, police said.

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The Kubicek BB 85 Z hot air balloon had "an unspecified problem with its envelope," the NTSB said.

"Investigators have not found any mechanical anomalies with the balloon during their examination. They have also separated the balloon from the basket, and everything appears to be intact," the NTSB said Monday. "Later today, they will be examining the envelope for any anomalies. An electronic device that could have relevant flight information and a video camera have been sent to NTSB headquarters in Washington, D.C., for further analysis."

Witnesses who spoke to Phoenix ABC affiliate KNXV said the balloon appeared to be flying up and down before impact occurred.

The NTSB said interviews with witnesses are ongoing.

4 killed, 1 critically injured in hot air balloon crash in Arizona, police say originally appeared on abcnews.go.com