Tragic Hot Air Balloon Crash Leaves Four Dead and One Critically Injured in Eloy, Arizona

Eloy, Arizona – Four individuals lost their lives and another person sustained critical injuries when a hot air balloon unexpectedly crashed in Eloy, Arizona. The incident occurred while a group of skydivers were making a jump just moments before the crash. The balloon came down in a desert area east of Sunshine Boulevard and Hanna Road.

According to Eloy Mayor Micah Powell, the balloon was carrying a total of 13 individuals, including a balloon operator, four passengers, and eight skydivers. Shortly after all the skydivers completed their jump, a catastrophic event took place, causing the balloon to crash to the ground. The exact cause of the crash remains unknown, and the National Transportation Safety Board is currently investigating the incident. Preliminary information suggests that an unspecified problem occurred with the balloon’s envelope.

An eyewitness on the ground described the moments leading up to the crash, stating that the material of the hot air balloon was standing straight up and down, and the impact was significant. One person was pronounced dead at the scene, while three others succumbed to their injuries after being taken to a hospital. The critically injured individual was transported to a trauma center in Phoenix.

One of the victims has been identified as Katie Bartrom, a 28-year-old registered nurse from Indiana who had a passion for skydiving. Her mother, Jennifer Hubartt, expressed the family’s devastation, describing Katie as a beautiful person who recently achieved her dream of becoming an RN.

Authorities in Arizona have refrained from releasing the names of the victims until their families have been notified. The tight-knit community of Eloy, known for its large skydiving community presence and drop zone, is now grappling with the aftermath of this tragic incident.

NTSB investigators were present at the crash site to document the scene and examine the aircraft, an A-160 passenger balloon manufactured by Cameron Balloons. The investigation is being conducted in collaboration with the Federal Aviation Administration.

As the investigation continues, the Eloy Police Department has requested support and thoughts for the affected families and loved ones during this difficult time.