By Tom Mustin
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS) – Briana Trujillo is heartbroken after the tragic death of her best friend, 23-year-old Paige Brabson.
“It’s just so hard to believe,” she told CBS4’s Tom Mustin. “I was just hoping it wasn’t her.”
Paige and her mother Lorilee Brabson were among the 16 people killed on Saturday near Austin, Texas, in the deadliest hot air balloon crash in U.S. history.
Both had recently moved to Texas from Colorado Springs.
Paige attended Harrison High School, where she and Trujillo became best friends on the swim team.
“Right away we just clicked,” Trujillo said. “An amazing, gorgeous person. She’s someone I feel anyone could relate to and be themselves around.”
Paige and Trujillo had a happy reunion two weeks ago in Colorado Springs.
“We just hung out like old times. Just talked. It was really great to see her again,” she said.
Lorilee’s brother, Jason Pino, says his sister had riding in a hot air balloon on her bucket list. He said Paige surprised her mom with the flight.
“Paige got her the gift for Mother’s Day. They had been putting it off and putting it off due to weather and finally they got a good weather day,” Pino said.
Paige and her mother had been posting on Facebook during the flight. When the posts stopped, Jason knew something was wrong.
“She was posting video and pictures, then it just stopped,” he said.
Witnesses say the balloon hit a power line, caught fire and plummeted to the ground.
As investigators search for clues, Trujillo still can’t believe her friend is gone.
“I loved her and I’m really going to miss her,” she said.