4 dead in Arizona hot air balloon crash

4 dead in Arizona hot air balloon crash

Four people died when a hot air balloon crashed in Eloy, Arizona, on Sunday morning, police said.

A fifth person was in critical condition after the “tragic” crash, Eloy police said.

The balloon went down about 7:50 a.m. in the desert area of Sunshine Boulevard and Hannah Road, the police department said. Eloy is about 50 miles northwest of Tucson and 65 miles southeast of Phoenix.

The passengers and the pilot were killed, the police department said. The balloon was also carrying eight skydivers who jumped from the balloon before there were any problems with the aircraft, it said.

The cause of the crash remains unknown, according to the department. The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration were on the scene and took over the investigation.

Those killed were identified by police Monday as: Chayton Wiescholek, 28, from Union City, Michigan; Kaitlynn Bartom, 28, from Andrews, Indiana; Atahan Kiliccote, 24, from Cupertino, California; and the pilot, Cornelius Van Der Walt, 37, who is originally from South Africa but lived in Elroy.

Valerie Stutterheim, 23, from Scottsdale, remained in critical condition, police said.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives in this tragic incident,” police said in a statement Monday.

Rebecca Cohen

Rebecca Cohen is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.

Phil Helsel

Phil Helsel is a reporter for NBC News.

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