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Cornelius van der Walt: Who was arizona hot air balloon pilot?

Cornelius van der Walt
Cornelius van der Walt

Cornelius van der Walt has been identified as the Arizona hot air balloon pilot in the Sunday morning crash that left four dead – including Katie Bartrom a 28-year-old nurse – and one seriously injured.

Cornelius was introduced to parachuting and airplanes at the age of 17.

He was a skydiving Instructor.

Cornelius van der Walt was hailed as an ‘adventurer’ and ‘good man’ by loved ones on social media.

Friends and admirers described him as an ‘adventurer’ and ‘good man’ on social media.

One commentator stated van der Walt having ‘mad skills in so many ways’ along with being ‘one h**l of a good man’.

Others thanked him for the impact he had on their lives and offered their condolences to his family.

The Arizona hot air balloon incident

Police said the aircraft crashed into the desert around five miles north of the city of Eloy at around 7.50am.

Thirteen people – eight skydivers, four passengers and a pilot – had been in the balloon, according to Eloy Mayor Micah Powell.

A witness who saw the last 10 seconds of the balloon’s descent described it as shapeless, deflated and coming straight down, the mayor added.

The eight skydivers leaped from the aircraft before the incident, leaving five people on board.

‘What we know at this point is the skydivers were able to exit the balloon without incident and completed their planned skydiving event, and then shortly thereafter something catastrophic happened with the balloon causing it to crash to the ground,’ Eloy Police Chief Byron Gwaltney told reporters.

Gwaltney said the balloon came from outside the city and the skydivers intended to touch down at the Eloy Municipal Airport, just down the road from the scene of the accident.

‘The incident appeared to occur very quickly,’ he added, calling it ‘an absolute tragedy’ for the community.

One person was pronounced dead at the scene, while the other three died at a hospital. Another passenger remains in critical condition at a Phoenix-area trauma center.

‘Out of respect for their privacy, the names of the victims are being withheld at this time pending notification of next of kin,’ the Eloy Police Department said in a press release.

‘The Eloy Police Department extends its deepest condolences to the families and friends of those involved in this heartbreaking incident.’

Written by GhLinks Media

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