Hot Air Balloon Tragedy: Families fighting for change 1 year later

July 30th marks the one year anniversary of the deadliest hot air balloon crash in U.S. history.

SUNDAY - LOCKHART, Texas -- Sunday marked the one year anniversary of the deadliest hot air balloon crash in U.S. history. Sixteen people were killed near Lockhart after their hot air balloon struck a power line and went down. 

An autopsy report released by Caldwell County showed pilot Skip Nichols had ritalin, oxycodone, diazepam (Valium), cyclobenzaprine (muscle relaxant), dextromethorphan (cough syrup) in his system at the time of the crash. 

That got the attention of Patricia Morgan, whose daughter Lorilee and granddaughter Paige Brabson were killed in the crash. 


 

"It's been a really tough year in our lives. We have struggled with the loss of both the girls. It's changed our lives tremendously," said Patricia Morgan, Lorilee's mother and Paige's grandmother. "Right now, I turn everything over to God. I am thankful that I had the girls in the time that I did have them."

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Morgan has fought for stricter federal safety regulations. Currently, hot air balloon pilots do not have to get drug tested or take medical exams.

She started a White House petition that later caught the attention of Senator Ted Cruz. He filed a bill that would require balloon pilots to take medical exams.

"I believe the August voting will be to insert the certification requirements into the reauthorization bill. Then, the house has to vote on it," Morgan said. "Now I'm in a place where I'm fighting for the girls and the rest of the victims."

On Saturday, a vigil was held near the crash site in Lockhart. The crash remains under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.

© 2017 KENS-TV


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