News: FAA finds pilot in Albuquerque hot air balloon crash had drugs in system

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Bert Parnall

ALBUQUERQUE, NM – The Federal Aviation Administration has determined that a pilot had drugs in his system at the time of a fatal hot air balloon crash in Albuquerque, according to KOB 4.

The balloon hit a power line in the area of Central Avenue and Under Boulevard in late June, about six miles west of the Albuquerque International Sunport airport. The gondola separated from the balloon and plunged about 100 feet, killing the pilot, Nicholas Meleski, and four passengers. It was the deadliest balloon crash in New Mexico history.

According to an FAA toxicology report made public last week, Meleski had marijuana and cocaine in his blood and urine. A doctor who spoke with KOB said the results of the report did not indicate whether Meleski was impaired when the crash occurred.

The National Transportation Safety Board has not yet issued its findings on the cause of the accident.

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