'Goodbye': Loved ones detail final moments before deadly hot air balloon crash

The parents of one of the Arizona hot air balloon crash victims are detailing his final moments as he said goodbye to the woman they said he was planning to marry very soon.

A day following the crash, police in Eloy identified four people killed in a hot air balloon crash south of Phoenix, and a young Scottsdale woman, who survived.

  • Kaitlynn Bartrom, 28, of Andrews, Indiana
  • Atahan Kiliccote, 24, of Cupertino, California
  • Cornelius Van Der Walt, 37, originally from Walvis Bay, Namibia, but resides in Eloy
  • Chayton Wiescholek, 28, of Union City, Michigan
  • Valerie Stutterheim, 23, of Scottsdale

Van Der Walt, according to police, was the pilot.

The balloon went down on the morning of Jan. 14 in the desert in Eloy.

A young man from Michigan was one of four people who did not survive. Chayton Wiescholak. 

His mother is in Arizona waiting to see her son. She flew in right when she heard the news from Chayton's girlfriend who skydived off that same hot air balloon.

"Everybody adored him because he was just that type of person," his mother, Rhonda, said. "He would do anything for you."

The 28-year-old is described as an outgoing person who loved the outdoors. Rhonda says he also loved his girlfriend Kinsey of five years.

"My wife found out that they were planning on, in the very near future, and I'm thinking in the matter of a few weeks, they were going to go to the courthouse and get married," Gary, Chayton's father, said.

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Chayton Wiescholek. Photo courtesy of Rhonda Wiescholek

There were initially 13 people in the hot air balloon: a pilot, four passengers and eight skydivers.

Kinsey was one of the eight skydivers – all of whom survived. The pilot and three of four passengers did not survive.

"She was with him, but she was not in the balloon when it went down. She had already jumped for her flight. All the people doing the air flights had already jumped out of the balloon," Rhonda said.

Chayton's dad says his son sent his last text to Kinsey.

'Goodbye, this isn't going to be good'

"He texted her on the way down, saying, 'Goodbye, this isn't going to be good, I love you' and signed off," Gary recalled.

Once Kinsey landed, she read Chayton's text and immediately called him.

"Somebody else answered his phone and said, ‘This is not good, you need to be here now.’ She shedded her parachute harness and she ran two miles to get to him and officials wouldn't let her near him," he said.

That's when Chayton's parents were made aware of the crash.

"I usually can't talk about him without breaking down," Gary said.

The family is still waiting to see Chayton.

"They will still not let us go see him, so I am waiting to go see my son," Rhonda said.

The cause of the crash is still unknown.