ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A new report said illicit drugs in a pilot’s system contributed to a fatal hot air balloon crash on Albquerque’s west side in 2021. A final report released by the National Transportation Safety Board this week said the pilot, Nicholas Meleski, failed to clear power lines while trying to land.

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The report goes on to say Meleski’s use of impairing and illicit drugs contributed to the fatal accident. It said a post-crash examination of the balloon revealed no evidence of a mechanical malfunction In June of 2021, Meleski was trying to land the hot air balloon when it crashed killing him and four passengers. A 2021 toxicology report showed that Meleski tested positive for having drugs in his system during the crash.

The Meleski Family released this statement Friday:

We thank the National Transportation Safety Board for the effort and time spent on the investigation of the tragic accident. We cannot express the depth of our grief and sadness for the pain this accident has caused — our hearts go out to the families and loved ones of the passengers.

We want to also thank the entire hot air ballooning community of New Mexico and across the world. The outpouring of love and support has been overwhelming and we continue to grieve with you. Nick loved this community so dearly, and our family will continue to support the sport any way we can.

Meleski Family