The pilot of a June hot air balloon crash in New Mexico that killed him and four passengers had marijuana and cocaine in his system at the time of the crash, according to a report from the Federal Aviation Administration.
The pilot, Nicholas Meleski, and four others aboard the hot air balloon died after it struck a power line, caught fire and crashed into a busy street on June 26 about six miles west of the Albuquerque International Sunport, the FAA said. The incident caused widespread power outages for more than 13,000 homes in the area.
A two-page forensic toxicology report by the FAA, which was obtained by USA TODAY, shows Meleski had marijuana and cocaine in his system at the time of his death. The report was crafted last month but only released publicly Thursday.
The hot air balloon crash was the deadliest in New Mexico’s history. Albuquerque is a center for hot air ballooning in the U.S. and hosts a nine-day event every October that draws crowds of hundreds of thousands from around the world.
Witnesses said the hot air balloon’s envelop, the part of the aircraft that appears to be the balloon, separated from the basket after it hit the power lines. The envelop floated away and was found miles from the site of the crash.
The National Transportation Safety Board has yet to rule on the cause of the crash, which at the time also caused widespread power outages for more than 13,000 homes in the area.
In addition to Meleski, 62, the passengers killed in the crash included: Mary Martinez, 59; Martin Martinez, 62; Susan Montoya; and John Montoya.
Authorities said Martin and Mary Martinez were the parents of a prison transport officer with the Albuquerque Police Department. Martin Martinez was a retired Albuquerque police officer while his wife was a mother of two and avid volunteer.
Susan Montoya was an assistant school principal, and John Montoya worked with special education students.
Meleski’s family said in a statement to KOB 4 that they are evaluating a copy of the toxicology report and asking for privacy.
Contributing: The Associated Press