Man loses arm in balloon accident

Updated: 10/10/2013 1:04 PM | Created: 10/09/2013 9:40 AM
By: Danielle Todesco, KOB Eyewitness News 4; Elizabeth Reed,

Rio Rancho police have identified the occupants of a hot air balloon that hit a power line and crashed Wednesday morning.

Pilot Mark Kilgore and Crew Chief Daniel Lovato were flying in the balloon named "New Mexico Sunrises" when it hit a power line near Meadowlark Lane and Sara Way SE at around 8:30 a.m.

"I was walking my dog when I noticed the balloon was flying low," wrote Troy Bachis, a witness at the scene. "...Then (the pilot) hit the wires and tried to go up (but) a sand bag got caught in the wires and would not let him go up."

Bachis told KOB one of the occupants tried to use his hands to pull the sand bag loose.

"That is when the whole thing blew up in a ball of fire... I ran over to the basket and one man was on fire (and) so was the basket," he wrote.

According to Bachis, he and other people at the scene pulled the men from the burning gondola.

A source tells KOB Eyewitness News 4 that Lovato had to have his left arm amputated and is still in critical condition at UNM Hospital.

Kilgore had burns to the side of his face and was released from UNM Hospital Wednesday afternoon.

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