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Pilot in fatal Texas balloon crash had 4 drunken-driving convictions

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The hot air balloon pilot involved in Saturday’s fatal crash in Texas had at least four drunken-driving convictions in Missouri.

Online court records show that Alfred G. Nichols IV pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated in St. Louis County in 1990, then twice in 2002 and another in 2010.

Nichols also was convicted of a drug crime in 2000 and spent about a year-and-a-half in prison before he was paroled. He was returned to prison in April 2010 for parole revocation because of his drunk-driving conviction that year. He was paroled in January 2012.

Missouri court records also show that Nichols settled a personal injury lawsuit in 2013, that was filed by one of eight passengers in his balloon that crash-landed in suburban St. Louis. The lawsuit blamed lack of propane for the balloon. Nichols blamed lack of wind.

Authorities haven’t identified the pilot in the Texas crash, but his roommate has confirmed the pilot was 49-year-old Alfred “Skip” Nichols.

Nichols’ ex-girlfriend, Wendy Bartch, told The Associated Press that Nichols had several drunken-driving convictions in Missouri, but that he was in recovery and had been sober for at least four years.

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