HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — A motorcyclist who died last week while riding on Farm to Market 1626 in Hays County was a crew member of the hot air balloon that crashed in Lockhart in July.
The Texas Department of Public Safety says Alan Thomas Lirette, of Buda, died on Dec. 27 when he failed to take a curve properly on his motorcycle. He was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.
On the Heart of Texas Hot Air Balloon Rides Facebook page, the business posted the crash took their “beloved Crew Chief, Bubba. Those who flew with us undoubtedly will remember him.”
Lirette was the ground crew supervisor who was working with Heart of Texas Hot Air Balloon Rides the day the balloon crashed and killed all 16 people on board. Lirette originally said he helped load the passengers into the hot air balloon that day.
“It’s a difficult case, because here you are dealing with 15 different fatalities and the families of each, it’s just a difficult case all around,” said the attorney for the Heart of Texas Hot Air Balloon Rides Chris Kilgore.
Kilgore says three families have filed lawsuits, one has settled. He says the death of Lirette could make it more difficult for the families who are looking to sue for damages beyond what the company is willing to offer.
“Bubba was obviously an important witness to the circumstances leading up to the accident and of course the recent history of Skip and the balloon and that sort of thing, but at least at this point, his passing has no impact, certainly not on the settlements,” said Kilgore.
Kilgore adds that the balloon company was insured. If families choose to settle, they can receive up to $100,000 per passenger.
When asked if Lirette’s death will impact the investigation into the balloon crash, a spokesperson for the National Transportation Safety Board said it would not.