Pilot in deadly hot air balloon crash had similar incident in Missouri

Pilot had suspended drivers license in the past
Posted at 7:28 PM, Aug 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-01 20:16:30-04

The pilot involved in a deadly hot air balloon crash over the weekend was involved in an eerily similar incident in Missouri.

Alfred Nichols was manning a hot air balloon filled with 16 people, included himself, in Texas on Saturday when it crashed into some power lines.

Every person onboard died.

On Monday, it was revealed that Nichols was sued in 2012 for a similar incident.

Nichols was the one-time owner of Air Balloon Sports LLC, located in O'Fallon, Missouri. 

According to court records, in 2009, Nichols took a family of three up in the air in Jefferson County after they purchased a Groupon.

At some point during the ride, Nichols told the family he was running out of fuel. The balloon, according to the documents, landed in some trees. The people onboard had to pull at the branches to get the balloon free. It then proceeded to fall to the ground from 80 feet in the air.

During the deposition, Nichols told a judge that the hot air balloon was veering toward some power lines, which is why he made the decision to bring it down.

Of the three passengers, only one was injured. 

Lee Patton, the attorney for that case, spoke exclusively with 41 Action News, saying he helped his client reach a $10,000 settlement. 

"I wish I would have done more to get this guy's license permanently suspended," Patton said. 

Nichols also had a lengthy history of drinking and driving, according to court records. Nichols also had several drug charges on his record. He was also caught driving on a suspended license. 

"What I'm shocked about, is that he was still able to pilot an aircraft," Patton said.

Investigators are still looking into Saturday's incident.