BERNALILLO COUNTY – The New Mexico State Police (NMSP) was requested by the Albuquerque Police Department to investigate a hot air balloon crash Saturday, June 26, 2021, with multiple fatalities in Albuquerque.
At approximately 7:34 a.m., NMSP officers responded to the scene near Unser Boulevard and Central Avenue.
Upon arrival officers located 5 occupants, the pilot and four passengers:
- The pilot, identified as Nicholas Meleski, 62, of Albuquerque sustained fatal injuries;
- Passenger Susan Montoya, 65, of Albuquerque sustained fatal injuries;
- Passenger Mary Martinez, 59, of Albuquerque sustained fatal injuries;
- Passenger Martin Martinez, 62, of Albuquerque sustained fatal injuries;
- Passenger, John Montoya, 61, of Albuquerque was transported from the scene by emergency personnel to an area hospital in Albuquerque. He later succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased.
The initial investigation indicates the balloon descended toward the ground and struck an overhead power line. The basket became engulfed in flames. The Albuquerque police and fire departments arrived on scene, extinguished the fire and rendered aid.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) investigators were notified to investigate the crash. Inquiries into the cause of the crash should be made directly to the FAA.
The New Mexico State Police Investigations Bureau, Crime Scene Unit, Crash Reconstruction Unit and Aerial Drone Team assisted in the investigation.