Who Was Katie Bartrom? Indiana Nurse Identified as First Victim of Arizona Hot Air Balloon Crash that Killed 4 and Injured 1

Eloy Mayor Micah Powell said that there were thirteen people on board, including eight skydivers, four passengers, and a pilot.

The first victim among the four people who were killed in a horrific hot air balloon crash in the Arizona desert on Sunday has been identified as Katie Bartrom, a 28-year-old registered nurse from Indiana. Bartrom's family shared with ABC15 that she died in the crash on Sunday morning, which resulted in four fatalities and one person sustaining serious injuries.

The accident took place around 7:50 a.m. in a desert location in Eloy, a small town with a population slightly exceeding 15,000. Eloy is located about 65 miles northwest of Phoenix and is renowned as "the skydiving capital of the world." The reason for the crash was not immediately clear.

Tragic Death While Holidaying

Katie Bartrom
Katie Bartrom X

Bartrom was identified as one of the first victims of the tragic incident. Her mother told ABC 15 that she was a registered nurse and enjoyed skydiving and adventure.

Police said that the aircraft went down in the desert approximately five miles north of the city of Eloy at around 7:50 a.m. Eloy Mayor Micah Powell said that there were thirteen people on board, including eight skydivers, four passengers, and a pilot.

Katie Bartrom
Katie Bartrom X

A witness who saw the final 10 seconds of the balloon's descent described it as shapeless, deflated, and descending vertically, according to the mayor.

Eight skydivers had already jumped from the aircraft before the incident, leaving five people on board.

According to the New York Times, Eloy Police Department Chief Byron Gwaltney said that there was some form of catastrophic failure that occurred during the incident.

"What we know at this point is the skydivers were able to exit the balloon without incident and completed their planned skydiving event, and then shortly thereafter something catastrophic happened with the balloon causing it to crash to the ground," Gwaltney told reporters.

Investigation Ongoing

Gwaltney said that the balloon originated from outside the city, and the skydivers had intended to land at the Eloy Municipal Airport, which is located just down the road from the accident site.

Arizona hot air balloon crash
The deflated balloon seen after the tragic crash that killed four X

"The incident appeared to occur very quickly," he added, describing it as "an absolute tragedy" for the community.

One person was declared dead at the accident scene, while the remaining three succumbed to injuries at a hospital. Another passenger is currently in critical condition at a trauma center in the Phoenix area.

'Out of respect for their privacy, the names of the victims are being withheld at this time pending notification of next of kin," police said.

Katie Bartrom
Katie Bartrom Facebook

"The Eloy Police Department extends its deepest condolences to the families and friends of those involved in this heartbreaking incident."

Authorities have not yet shared any details about the deceased, except that they are all adults and not all of them are residents of Arizona.

Eloy is host to two parachute manufacturers, namely Firebird USA and Sun Path Products. It also houses the world's largest skydive drop zone, Skydive Arizona, located around five miles from the site of the balloon crash.

Federal agencies, including the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), are actively investigating the incident.