Balloon Crash Victims Buried in Mineral Wells

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Hundreds of friends and family attended a funeral service Saturday morning in Mineral Wells for a couple killed in a hot air balloon crash a week earlier.

John and Stacee Gorre were among 16 people killed when the balloon hit power lines in Lockhart, Texas. The Gores were celebrating their third wedding anniversary. Pastor Mark Alcorn of First Baptist Church in Mineral Wells called the Gores "energetic. God loving people that just loved life."

Pastor Alcorn married the couple in 2013. He called the occasion "joyous and happy. Everybody was fun-loving and they were glad each one of them, John and Stacee, had found someone that they could really truly love and be with the rest of their life."

The couple leaves behind four children, a big void in their family and also in their church family. "They loved just doing things with their kids, they enjoyed their kids, they enjoyed life. Life to the fullest."

The balloon crash is the deadliest in US history. The balloon company, Hot Air Ballon Rides, has suspended all rides since the accident. The National Transportation Board continues to investigate.

The pilot of a hot air balloon that crashed in Texas, killing 16 people, was able to keep flying despite having at least four convictions for drunken driving in Missouri and twice spending time in prison.

Whether the pilot's drinking habits had anything to do with the crash was unclear. A former girlfriend described Alfred "Skip" Nichols as a recovering alcoholic. She said he had been sober for at least four years and never piloted a balloon after drinking.

Nichols, who had been stripped of his driver's license at least twice, "couldn't drive a car but he could pilot a hot air balloon," said an attorney who represented a passenger who sued Nichols in 2013. The passenger said she was hurt when Nichols crash-landed a balloon in the St. Louis suburbs.

Had he been a commercial airplane pilot, Nichols probably would have been grounded long ago.
The Federal Aviation Administration might allow a recovering alcoholic to fly commercial jets if the pilot could show that he or she was being successfully treated, said John Gadzinski, an airline captain and aviation safety consultant. But the agency is unlikely to accept an airline pilot with convictions for driving under the influence, he said.