CALDWELL COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Thirteen of the victims who were in the hot air balloon that crashed in a field west of Lockhart Saturday morning have been identified by family members and family friends.
A public memorial is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 6 at 7:30 a.m. on the east lawn of the Caldwell County Courthouse in Lockhart.
Alfred “Skip” Nichols, Pilot
The pilot, Alfred “Skip” Nichols, died with 15 others when the balloon made contact with utility lines off of State Highway 142.
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,” in an interview at his home in Kyle. “[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 said.
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. Paige had her first child a few months ago and the trip was a Mother’s Day gift from Paige to her mom.
A family member asked people to pray for his family. The mother and daughter are from San Antonio.
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 posted on social media pictures of them 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. The page also states while in the air, Brian sent his brother a picture and stated, “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 in San Antonio, says he got to know the Neill’s during a camping trip through church about 5-7 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 were from Victoria.
John and Stacee Gore
John, 33, and Stacee Gore, 31, were from Mineral Wells and were celebrating their third wedding anniversary with the balloon ride, according to KXAN’s sister station KXAS in Dallas.
The couple each had two children — three boys and one girl — when they got married in 2013.