Agency: Drug use should have grounded pilot in balloon wreck

AP News
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Posted: Dec 09, 2016 3:33 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Medical experts say the pilot of a hot-air balloon that crashed in Texas, killing him and 15 others, had medical ailments and was prescribed numerous prescription drugs that should have prevented him from flying.

The National Transportation Safety Board was told during a hearing Friday that it appears Alfred "Skip" Nichols was using at least 10 different drugs at the time the balloon hit high-tension power lines before crashing into a pasture July 30 near Lockhart, about 60 miles northeast of San Antonio.

It's not clear whether the 49-year-old was impaired during the early morning flight. A final NTSB report won't be issued until early next year.

Nichols had at least four convictions for drunken driving and twice spent time in prison.