AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The ground crew leader for a Texas hot air balloon company involved in a 2015 deadly crash has been killed in a motorcycle accident.

The Austin American-Statesman ( ) reports Alan Thomas Lirette was a key witness in the investigation into the July 30 balloon crash near Maxwell.

The Texas Department of Public Safety says the 60-year-old Lirette was killed Dec. 27 in a wreck while riding a motorcycle in Travis County.

Lirette helped launch the Heart of Texas Hot Air Balloon Rides craft that later hit power lines and crashed, killing all 16 people on board.

Lirette helped search for the balloon after losing contact with the pilot, Alfred "Skip" Nichols, who was among the victims.

Lirette last summer provided the National Transportation and Safety Board with a detailed statement.

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