The country continues to mourn a tragedy in Texas, in which a downed hot air balloon caught fire, killing all 16 people on board.
New details, however, are beginning to emerge about the balloon’s pilot, Alfred “Skip” Nichols.
Nichols has a fairly lengthy arrest record, including multiple DWIs.
Throughout the past couple of decades, the 49-year-old had twice been arrested for misdemeanor Driving While Intoxicated offenses, as well one arrest being made for distribution, delivery or manufacturing of a controlled substance.
According to People, he was also arrested for driving with a suspended license and spent nearly 2 years on supervised probation.
His former girlfriend, Wendy Bartch, told ABC NewsBC that he was a recovering alcoholic who had been sober for at least 4 years.
She said he would never drink on the job and the safety of his passengers was his main focus:
“He did not fly when he wasn’t supposed to.
Having other people’s lives at stake was Skip’s primary concern.”
That’s not the end of the story, though.
Nichols owned a hot air balloon company that had come under investigation by the Better Business Bureau.
They advised consumers to be wary of Nichols, in a statement released in 2008:
“The Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns consumers about doing business with Skip Nichols, the owner of Air Balloon Sports.”
“Several area consumers have complained that they had scheduled flights cancelled, difficulty rescheduling flights, sometimes over the course of years, and the company failed to provide refunds and was extremely difficult to contact.”
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are still investigating the crash.
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Source: independent journal
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