- Katie Bartrom, originally from Indiana, was named by her family
- The 28-year-old was one of four killed in the accident, which left a fifth person seriously injured
- The balloon plummeted to the ground in a desert around five miles from the city of Eloy
A 28-year-old registered nurse from Indiana has been identified as one of the four people killed in a hot air balloon crash in the Arizona desert.
Speaking to ABC15, Katie Bartrom’s family shared that she perished in Sunday morning’s crash that left four dead and one seriously injured.
Bartrom’s mother told the outlet that the young woman, who hailed from Indiana, loved skydiving and adventure.
Police said the aircraft crashed into the desert around five miles north of the city of Eloy at around 7.50am.
Thirteen people – eight skydivers, four passengers and a pilot – had been in the balloon, according to Eloy Mayor Micah Powell.
Katie Bartrom, 28, was identified as one of the four people killed in Sunday morning’s hot air balloon crash in the Arizona desert
Thirteen people had been in the balloon – eight skydivers, four passengers and a pilot – according to Eloy Mayor Micah Powell
The skydivers jumped from the aircraft before the incident, leaving five people on board.
‘What we know at this point is the skydivers were able to exit the balloon without incident and completed their planned skydiving event, and then shortly thereafter something catastrophic happened with the balloon causing it to crash to the ground,’ Eloy Police Chief Byron Gwaltney told reporters.
Gwaltney said the balloon came from outside the city and the skydivers intended to touch down at the Eloy Municipal Airport, just down the road from the scene of the accident.
‘The incident appeared to occur very quickly,’ he added, calling it ‘an absolute tragedy’ for the community.
One person was pronounced dead at the scene, while the other three died at a hospital. Another passenger remains in critical condition at a Phoenix-area trauma center.
‘Out of respect for their privacy, the names of the victims are being withheld at this time pending notification of next of kin,’ the Eloy Police Department said in a press release.
‘The Eloy Police Department extends its deepest condolences to the families and friends of those involved in this heartbreaking incident.’
Officials have yet to release any information about the deceased, other than that they are all adults and not all of them hail from Arizona.
Bartrom’s mother described the registered nurse as someone who loved ‘skydiving and adventure’
The aircraft plummeted to the ground around five miles north of the city of Eloy in Pinal County. Bartrom was among the four dead, while another person sustained serious injuries
Flyover video from FOX 10 Phoenix shows the balloon crumpled in the dirt near the intersection of Sunshine Boulevard and Hanna Road.
Trucks arrived on scene to tow the gondola away, hoisting it by crane onto a trailer.
Investigators could be seen walking across the face of the mangled balloon and folding it up before carrying it away.
Federal agencies including the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration continue to look into the incident.
An NTSB spokesperson said preliminary information shows that the balloon crashed following an ‘unspecified problem’ with its envelope.