Alan Lirette, a man who died in a motorcycle crash in South Austin Dec. 27, was a key witness in the federal government's investigation into the hot air balloon crash in Lockhart that killed 16 people, according to KVUE's news partners at the Austin American-Statesman.

Lirette, 60, died along FM 1626 near Akins High School when his motorcycle went off the road and struck a stop sign.

According to the Statesman, Lirette headed up the ground crew for Heart of Texas Balloon Rides and led the search on July 30, 2016 for the missing balloon after he lost contact with Alfred "Skip" Nichols, the pilot.

At an investigative hearing with the National Transportation Safety Board, experts revealed that Nichols knew before taking off that weather conditions were dangerous. Go here for more from that hearing.

Go here for background on the hot air balloon crash.

Check back for updates on this story.