Albuquerque balloon crash: Who was Martin Martinez? Ex-cop and wife among 5 dead

Sgt Martin Martinez of the Albuquerque Public Schools Police Department died with his wife Mary in a hot air balloon crash in New Mexico


                            Albuquerque balloon crash: Who was Martin Martinez? Ex-cop and wife among 5 dead
Sgt Martin Martinez of the Albuquerque Public Schools Police Department died with his wife Mary in a hot air balloon crash in New Mexico on Saturday, June 26, 2021 (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXIXO: A veteran Albuquerque officer and his wife were among the five people killed when a hot air balloon collided with a power line in New Mexico on the morning of Saturday, June 26, cutting off the envelope and sending the basket cascading to the ground. 

In Saturday's hot air balloon crash, four people died at the site, and another was taken to a local hospital in serious but stable condition, where he died around 3 pm, according to Albuquerque police. All the victims were in their 40s or 50s.



 

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New Mexico has seen several deaths in recent months, including the killing of a 51-year-old man whose head was used as a soccer ball by the murderer. Last week, also in Albuquerque, a former military man was charged with murder for murdering a fifth victim who allegedly helped him in moving other victims' dismembered bodies. On June 12, a man was booked for murdering a woman in August 2018, defense said police forced the man to believe that he had committed the crime.

Who was Martin Martinez?

During an afternoon press conference, Martin Martinez, a retired Albuquerque police officer and sergeant in the Albuquerque Public Schools Police Department, and his wife Mary, 62, were identified. The names of the remaining three victims will not be made public until their relatives have been informed. They are characterized as being in their middle years and from New Mexico.

Chief Harold Medina of the Albuquerque Police Department said he worked with Martin Martinez when he first joined the force, making the tragedy even more difficult for him and the other officers who responded. "In 26 years, it was one of the scenes that hit me the most," Medina said to the Daily Mail. 'There were officers on the scene who worked with Martin and we did have to send some officers home because they were disturbed by what had occurred and it took its toll on them."

The Martinez family has also received condolences from the Albuquerque Public Schools."Sgt. Martinez will forever be remembered for his lifelong dedication, courage and selflessness to the profession of law enforcement. He had long careers with both the Albuquerque Police Department and the Albuquerque Public Schools Police Department," a statement read.



 

Around 7 am Saturday, the balloon landed on a street corner in Albuquerque's West Side neighborhood, some six miles from Albuquerque International Sunport Airport. The balloon is said to have been pushed onto power wires by the wind, causing it to catch fire and split the basket from the colorful envelope. The basket then burst into flames and landed in the middle of a busy street near a pharmacy. 

"There were a number of citizens, residents of Albuquerque who ran into a very difficult scene, including an individual with a fire extinguisher, and they just tried to do what they could," Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said at a press conference Saturday afternoon. "If you have ballooned, there are always things that can happen, whether it's winds, whether it's equipment," he added. "It's something that our pilots always train for, but it's always something that, it can inherently sometimes occur."

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