Family, friends identify 13 passengers from Texas hot air balloon crash

Image courtesy KXAN

CALDWELL COUNTY, Texas — Family members and friends have identified 13 of the victims from the Lockhart, Texas hot air balloon crash. A public memorial is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 6.

The victims are:

Alfred “Skip” Nichols, Pilot

The pilot, Alfred “Skip” Nichols, died with 15 others when the balloon made contact with utility lines.

CNN confirmed the pilot’s identity after speaking with Alan Lirette, the ground crew supervisor who was working with Heart of Texas Hot Air Balloon Rides. Lirette said he helped load the other 15 passengers into the basket of the hot air balloon, called the gondola.

Lirette called Nichols his “best friend, boss and roommate.” “(Nichols) was a great pilot,” he said.

Joe Owens and Tresa Shafer Owens

Husband and wife Joe and Tresa Owens were also on board the balloon when it crashed. The couple was from Katy, Texas. “They adored their children and grandchildren, and loved nothing more than spending time with them,” a GoFundMe page set up to help cover funeral expenses says.

The page says Tresa had a long career at TigerLane Preschool.

Paige Brabson and Lorilee Brabson 

Paige and her mother, Lorilee, were on the balloon that crashed, family confirmed Sunday. The mother and daughter are from San Antonio.

Paige had her first child a few months ago. The trip was a Mother’s Day gift from Paige to her mom.

A family member asked people to pray for his family.

Sunday and Matt Rowan

Sunday and Matt Rowan both grew up in College Station. The two, both 34, married in February. Matt was a professor and burn treatment researcher. Sunday had a 5-year-old son.

The two shared pictures of themselves prior to getting into the hot air balloon.

Matt’s brother, Josh Rowan, told The Associated Press, “It’s a bit haunting now but I guess it was a bit of a play-by-play.”

Brian and Tressie Neill

According to a GoFundMe site, Brian and Tressie Neill were from San Antonio and had been married for 23 years. The page says Brian surprised his wife with the hot air balloon trip. While in the air, Brian sent his brother a picture and said, “Can you see our reflection in the clouds?” They’re survived by their two daughters.

Rey Lopez, a former pastor at the church the Neill family attends,  says he got to know the Neills during a camping trip about five to seven years ago. “They were just very involved in the church. They were one of those families that, as a model, you want your own family to be,” Lopez said.

Scott and Laura Douglas

The Justice of the Peace in Lockhart says they have only officially identified one person from the crash, and that person is Scott Douglas. According to the Victoria Advocate, the couple lived in Victoria.

John and Stacee Gore

John, 33, and Stacee Gore, 31, were from Mineral Wells and were celebrating their third wedding anniversary, local media reports.

The couple each had two children — three boys and one girl — when they got married in 2013.

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