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Company In Deadly Texas Hot Air Balloon Crash Suspends Business

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LOCKHART, TX (CBSDFW.COM/AP) - The company at the center of a fiery hot air balloon crash in Central Texas, that killed 16 people, has suspended operations.

Heart of Texas Hot Air Balloon Rides made the announcement of their Facebook page.

Heart of Texas Hot Air Balloon Rides

The statement, posted by Sarah Nichols, explained that in addition to the 15 passengers the company had lost their owner and chief pilot, Alfred "Skip" Nichols, in the crash. The post went on to say that no one from the company had contacted the families of the passengers because "no information has been shared with us by the investigating authorities."

Federal records show the Heart of Texas Hot Air Balloon Company had another accident two years ago. An accident report shows that a balloon registered to the company made a hard landing in a church soccer field in August of 2014. The crash injured two passengers.

The report says the company's retrieval team had parked its trailer in the balloon's landing path, causing the pilot to land short to avoid a collision. The name of the pilot involved in the 2014 crash wasn't included in the records.

Police say balloon pilot Skip Nichols had been arrested in Missouri for driving while intoxicated in 200o. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported in 2008 that the Better Business Bureau there had warned consumers about doing business with Nichols after complaints about his balloon touring company.

(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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