Swiss Government Publishes Investigation into 2013 Balloon Crash Accident that Killed Malibu Resident

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Grant Adamson, 55, was killed in a hot air balloon accident in Switzerland. His wife Terry, 55, was seriously injured, as were their daughters, 24 and 20. 

An “inappropriate flight tactic following a lapse of memory concerning the presence of [a high-voltage power line]” was the cause of the 2013 hot air balloon crash that killed Malibu resident Grant Adamson in the Swiss Alps.

The Swiss government last month released the official findings of an accident investigation into the fatal hot air balloon crash that also seriously injured Adamson’s wife, Terry Adamson, and their two daughters, Megan and Lauren. The findings were first published by Swiss newspaper La Liberte.

Grant, a descendant of Malibu’s founding Rindge family, was killed when the balloon his family was riding in crashed into power lines on Aug. 6, 2013. After hitting the lines, the report described, the balloon “deflated rapidly” and fell approximately 40 meters, or 131 feet.

Allegations arose around the time that the pilot had a history of alcohol abuse and may have been impaired at the time of the flight, a theory that was struck down in the final report.

“The pilot’s toxicological analyses did not reveal the presence of any substance likely to diminish psychomotor, reaction or decision-making capabilities,” the report stated.

The Swiss Transportation Safety Investigation Board (STSB) released the findings of a thorough investigation into the accident, which found that “the pilot was aware of the existence of the high-voltage power line because he had flown over it numerous times.”

Issues arose because of “human aspects” such as a language barrier, meaning “communication between the pilot and passengers was reduced.” 

Winds also came into play, the report said, though “the pilot experienced neither turbulences nor thermals during the flight.”

The investigation was undertaken by the STSB, whose aim is to “determine not only the direct causes of such events but also the more deep-seated reasons and other risks associated with them,” according to their website. 

The investigation also included eyewitness accounts of the accident from those living in the area where the balloon went down.

The investigation is not a legal finding of fault against the balloon’s pilot.

“The results of such a safety investigation are not intended to clarify questions of blame and liability,” the STSB website said.