LOCKHART, Texas – Investigators continued to seek answers Monday after 16 people were killed in a hot air balloon crash over the weekend in Lockhart, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.
“They’re saying they have to use dental records to identify the passengers, which indicates they had a very intense fire after the landing,” Philip Bryant of Ballooning Adventures of Texas said.
Grandparents Tresa and Joe Owens, a couple from Katy, were among those who perished in the incident.
Tresa Owens had worked in childcare for 25 years, and was employed at Tiger Land Childcare Center before the crash.
"She was just a wonderful person,” Owner Steve Sandweiss of Tiger Land Child Center said. “Always happy and Joe was happy, smiling. Just happy to help out in any way he could.”
Sandweiss said Tresa Owens was a part of the community.
The couple’s friend, Holly Smith Huckabee, was also about the hot air balloon. Huckabee's daughter worked with Tresa Owens at the Tiger Land Childcare Center.
Tresa was known as the go-to person for advice on raising kids, love ones said. Her death is hitting co-workers, and day care families, especially hard.
For many, a hot air balloon ride is something for the bucket-list.
San Antonio newlyweds Matt and Sunday Rowan had been married less than six months. The Rowans posted preflight photos on SnapChat Saturday morning.
"Even down to the last minutes — there were still pictures of them smiling, laughing,” Matt’s brother, Josh Rowan, said.
Sunday Rowan leaves behind a five year old son.
Lorilee Brabsoon, also from San Antonio, was aboard with her daughter Paige. Paige had become a first-time mother a few months ago, the hot air balloon trip was a Mother’s Day gift from the new mom to her mom.
Ballooning Adventures of Texas announced Monday it will be suspending its operations indefinitely after losing its owner and chief pilot Alfred “Skip Nichols.”
As part of the investigation, the NTSB is looking at three things in particular.
“We look at the human, the machine, and the environment,” Robert Sumwalt, an NTSB board member, said.