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Police cars block access to the site where a hot air balloon crashed early Saturday, July 30, 2016, near Lockhart, Texas. (AP Photo/James Vertuno)

(Bloomberg) – The pilot of a hot-air balloon that crashed last summer in Texas, killing himself and 15 sight-seeing passengers, had taken a cocktail of prohibited drugs before liftoff including the opiate pain-killer oxycodone, according to government documents.

Alfred “Skip” Nichols was able to continue flying people for hire in spite of being convicted five times for driving while intoxicated and three times for drug offenses. The incident revealed lax regulations on balloon operators and a regulatory loophole that made it difficult to take enforcement action against him, according to documents prepared for a National Transportation Safety Board hearing.

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