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FAA: Pilot in deadly N.M. hot air balloon crash had drugs in his system

The basket of a hot air balloon which crashed lies on the pavement in Albuquerque, N.M., Saturday, June 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 4:29 PM PT – Thursday, September 23, 2021

The Federal Aviation Administration said the pilot of a hot air balloon involved in a deadly crash in New Mexico, had drugs in his system. According to a toxicology report released this week, pilot Nicholas Meleski, 62, had marijuana and cocaine in his system at the time of the June crash.

Meleski and four others were killed as the balloon flew above Albuquerque and hit power lines, before detaching and crashing into a busy intersection. The incident is considered New Mexico’s deadliest hot air balloon crash.

The crash prompted a local pilot to call for changes to balloon flight standards. “We don’t do drug testing. I think we should,” said Glenn Thomas. Thomas added how he has already posted to online forums suggesting that all commercial pilots do a hair follicle test.

Meanwhile, the National Transportation Safety Board is working to determine the cause of the crash. However, the board said it would likely take months before the probe is complete.

NTSB is investigating the June 26, 2021, crash of a hot air balloon in Albuquerque, NM. Two NTSB investigators are responding to the scene.

— NTSB_Newsroom (@NTSB_Newsroom) June 26, 2021

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