Texas balloon pilot had been arrested for DWI in 2000

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LOCKHART, Texas (AP) _ Police say the pilot of a hot air balloon that crashed in Texas and killed all 16 people aboard had been arrested in Missouri for driving while intoxicated in 2000.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported in 2008 that the Better Business Bureau there had warned consumers about doing business with Alfred “Skip” Nichols after complaints about his balloon touring company.

Forty-nine-year-old Nichols was identified as the pilot of the Texas balloon by his friend and roommate Alan Lirette, who said that Nichols was a good pilot.

Federal investigators say the balloon hit high-tension power lines before crashing into a pasture early Saturday morning. One witness who lives a quarter-mile from the site reported a fireball going up.

Investigators are focusing on interviewing witnesses, starting Monday with the ground crew.