One year since nation's deadliest hot air balloon crash

Sunday marks a full year since the nation's deadliest hot air balloon crash.

The Lockhart balloon crash happened a year ago and claimed the lives of 16 people when it hit a power line in Caldwell County and caught fire.

"When I stop to think about it, it seems like it was only yesterday," said Margaret Wylie who lives a quarter of a mile down the stretch of road where the balloon crashed.

She said there was just one real witness to last year's hot air balloon tragedy and that was her six-year-old Chihuaha Terrier mix Brownie. 

"His whole demeanour changed and when I opened the door, he almost knocked me flat getting in the house and he only weighs nine pounds," she said.

Wylie said her dog's haste soon made sense when she caught sight of smoke and fire coming from her neighbor's field.

Wylie said she quickly called 911.

"The flames were almost up to the power lines," said Wylie.

Later Wylie discovered that a hot air balloon, operated by a nearby tour company, had crashed into the power lines and fell to the ground.

According to Caldwell County Sheriff’s Deputies none of the 16 people on board made it.

"I'm sitting there, 'Oh geez! Why did it have to happen that close to my house?'" she said.

Saturday loved ones of those killed gathered at the crash site to build a memorial and pay their respects.

"I'm hoping they let them rest, I mean, you can't bring them back and this just keeps bringing up bad memories. It's time to let the families and let the deceased rest," said Whylie.

The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating what led up to the crash.
Wylie said she is hoping the board reviews the rules and regulations for balloon pilots in order to avoid another tragedy like this from happening again.

"Even a private plane, the pilot has to pass certain regulations. There's nothing on hot air balloons," said Wylie.

The final report from the NTSB will be released later this year.