Hot Air Balloon Pilot in New Mexico Deadly Crash Had Cocaine, Marijuana in His System
The pilot of a hot air balloon that crashed in Albuquerque, New Mexico in June had marijuana and cocaine in his system at the time of the accident.
Based on a toxicology report, the drugs were found in Nicholas Meleski's blood and urine. The balloon crash killed the 62-year-old pilot and four passengers on June 26.
New Mexico Balloon Crash
According to Albuquerque Journal, the pilot and his passengers died after the balloon struck power lines and plummeted to the ground near Central and Unser NW.
The four passengers were identified as 62-year-old Martin Martinez, a longtime police officer with Albuquerque police department; his wife, 59-year-old Mary Martinez; 65-year-old assistant principal of Georgia O'Keeffe Elementary School Susan Montoya; and her husband, 61-year-old John Montoya.
Teachers and coworkers of the outgoing assistant principal could not believe what happened because they had chipped in to purchase the balloon ride as a going away gift for Montoya. The educator often told them that the balloon ride was on her bucket list. She invited her husband and Martinez' to join her.
The National Transportation Safety Board has yet to release its official report regarding the main reason for the crash. The agency clarified that it would take 12 to 24 months to complete, KRQE reported. The incident was considered the deadliest balloon crash in the history of New Mexico.
After the release of the toxicology report on Wednesday, reactions were mixed, with pilots who knew Meleski voiced out of being surprised. However, a prominent business owner noted that he had feared the pilot might have been impaired at the time of the crash.
Friends React on Result of Nick Meleski's Toxicology Report
The director of operations for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, Sam Parks, said that they never had any issues or concerns with Nick Meleski. Parks noted that the balloon pilot has participated in the fiesta for decades.
Parks also said that the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta follows the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) protocols. However, it does not require drug testing beforehand.
At the time of the crash, Meleski's fellow balloonists told the Albuquerque Journal that Meleski had flown thousands of hours in New Mexico and even in far-flung locales all over the world.
Buzz Biernacki, a fellow balloonist, noted that he knew Meleski for "a long time." The balloonist added that the report was not at all characteristic of what he thought of Meleski.
"I never saw him even drink, much less use any drugs," Biernacki said.
Troy Bradley, a chief pilot of Rainbow Ryders, was also surprised by the result of Meleski's toxicology report. He had flown around him for decades. Bradley said he hopes the incident doesn't cast any negativity on the ballooning community.
This article is owned by Latin Post
Written by: Jess Smith
WATCH: Multiple Killed in Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Crash - From NBC News
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