I talked my father and step-mother into going to the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, New Mexico. They went up in a balloon that exploded, killing them. I was supposed to be with them but cancelled at the last minute.

Here is the whole story: http://moomock.blogspot.com/2010/05/el-global-grande-my-fathers-last-flight.html

Comments: 757 • Responses: 66  • Date: 

titsmagee91164 karma

When I read that you saw them holding onto each other as they fell it struck me as beautiful in a very tragic way. Does it give you some comfort knowing they had each other in the end?

Doodlebus1020 karma

It does give me some comfort. You're the first person to ever ask me that- thank you.

Book8511 karma

I have a friend whose father was killed in a motorcycle accident. My friend blames himself "BECAUSE HE DIDN'T TALK TO HIS FATHER AS HE LEFT THE HOUSE." My friend believes that those 30 seconds of conversation would have saved his dad's life.

Just exactly like him...YOU ARE NOT TO BLAME!

Doodlebus363 karma

Now that I'm older, I know I'm not to blame but as a young teen, the guilt was crippling.

lolbience91 karma

It's usually not until years after that we can look back at traumatic times and realize how desperate we were do anything to reverse the damages. Our self-centered ego's reoccurring question, "what could I have done?" often leads to misplaced guilt, even if the reason rarely, even weakly, correlates to the real cause/s. Sorry for your loss OP

Doodlebus43 karma

Very true!

the_troller25 karma

I hope that you can get past that and enjoy life.

Doodlebus42 karma

I have and I am as best I can.

letdogsvote496 karma

You can't take that on yourself, bud.

Doodlebus321 karma

I know now but when I was younger it was pretty brutal.

seraphaen151 karma

It's not your fault :( There are some things that are inevitable.

So why did you cancel last minute?

Doodlebus372 karma

I'd met a really cute blonde girl who asked me out on a date!

ocarina0484 karma

She saved your life! Did you marry her?

Doodlebus151 karma

I wish, she's a beautiful/wonderful woman!

Doodlebus236 karma

She's still a close friend to this day.

Aharvey9807115 karma

You owe that woman everything so it seems.

Doodlebus195 karma

She's still a close friend to this day

JethroSC99 karma

Do you know EXACTLY what happened? How many people were there?

Doodlebus137 karma

Yes, a faulty valve released gasses which caught on fire. There were 9 people, 4 died.

JethroSC92 karma

I'm so sorry mate.

Doodlebus63 karma


KioshiRawk49 karma

How do you feel about the people who did survive?

Doodlebus178 karma

I've always been happy for them.

pHreaksYcle16 karma

You can survive falling from a hot-air balloon?

Doodlebus49 karma

Sure, if you're not blown up or dropped from too high.

i_want_to_comment95 karma

So how's it going?

Doodlebus146 karma

Ok now, still have some rough patches. Once and awhile, the media will play a clip from the accident. Always catches me off guard. I miss them a lot.

Doodlebus96 karma

Ok, I tend to get a little stressed every year about the time it happened.

Doodlebus108 karma

It wrecked my little brother though, he's still having troubles.

Paladinltd63 karma

Oh man. How's your relationship with him? Does he blame you at all?

Doodlebus177 karma

We haven't talked in years, he's a brutally angry man.

metalstomach15 karma

My best friend is the same way. Although he doesn't feel guilty for the death of a loved one. BTW I'm really sorry to hear this. He went through a lot of abuse and lack of love from his parents. Mainly his father. I went through some similar shit, but my mom and brother. We have known each other for 19 years. He has changed a lot. He is hateful, vengeful and envious. It pisses me off to see my friend become something that I know he isn't. I feel our situation is similar. This dude is my brother. Not by blood, but in my mind and heart. It can be very painful to deal with. Also he let money get to his head. I was raised to never put money before people. So yeah, I hope you can talk to your bro. I have been kewl with my biological brother for awhile now. He caused me a lot of mental problems in the past do to his addiction to meth. He has been clean for years now. Very kewl dude.

Doodlebus52 karma

Blood doesn't make family, big lesson I've learned.

Money will really screw with people, I've been dealing with that during this recession.

Meth is so bad, so bad...

i_want_to_comment37 karma

Well, hang in there. I'm sure you hear this all the time but it's not your fault. Just a freak accident.

Doodlebus27 karma

Thank you.

puritycontrol75 karma

Dude.. I don't have anything to ask. I just want to say that was a heartbreaking story. You have a beautiful way with the written word. I'm sure this is a topic you certainly didn't want to have to use your talent on, but you seem to have captured such raw emotions that you endured through the years.

What's really important is how loved you were by your dad and PJ, and how lucky you were able to reconnect with him. And how also lucky you were that you had a date, because your family would have been even more devastated if you had gone up in that balloon, too.

Props to you, man, for being strong and sharing this with people. Nothing can ever bring them back, but those good memories are yours, and no one'll take them.

Doodlebus94 karma

Thank you so much for taking the time to write this! I'm grateful to be alive. I have 3 beautiful children now and love every minute I have with them.

Jaggerous44 karma

Would you ever go on a balloon ride after that?

Doodlebus74 karma

No, not in a million years. I went to the fiesta once after and it was brutal.

PrincessBunyanFart25 karma

What made you go?

Doodlebus68 karma

My children wanted to see it.

passwordsdonotmatch19 karma

I was going to ask if you had children. I'm glad you were able to become a father yourself after your childhood experiences. Do you think this has affected your parenting style? Your views on your role as a father?

Doodlebus57 karma

Without a doubt. I'm a great father, people tell me that I'm the best they've ever seen. I give my children everything I wanted and missed out on.

hikemhigh59 karma

Candy for breakfast?!?!

Doodlebus145 karma

Not that nice!

methamp32 karma

Life insurance?

Doodlebus50 karma

No life insurance, I did get a little money from the lawsuit.

methamp18 karma

You were given the raw end of the deal. What is your religious preference?

Doodlebus178 karma

After that - none. I literally looked to the sky and said I hate you to god.

ItsIllak263 karma

That's either Catholic or Jewish.

Doodlebus114 karma

I consider myself a "recovering Catholic"!

Eighty8029 karma

from canada, please accept my love and tears (crying at work, glad no one else is here)

Doodlebus37 karma

Thank you Canadian - I LOVE TIM HORTONS!!!!!! I have a daughter who was badly injured at a hospital in the USA. We've spent a ton of time in Picton Canada getting her help. Every morning I'd go get a "double double"!!!

Here is my daughters story: http://moomock.blogspot.com/2010/04/our-day-in-hell-part-1.html?zx=50cf882548df95c6

linh_nguyen5 karma

have you ever done an AMA on this? that is quite a gut wrenching story (numbering is off btw, or did you remove a post?)

Doodlebus4 karma

I've done a couple AMA, will do again. I'm not surprised the numbering is off, I keep adding and removing chapters.

Thanks for the heads up.

n30h80r26 karma

Hard question. Would you have rather been on the balloon with them?

Doodlebus66 karma

Until I saw my 1st child... Yes, without a doubt. I was very clear that I would have rather died with them. It's hard to explain the pain of something like that and the "romantic" thought of being one of the ones who died is very attractive.

le-anon22 karma

What happened to you afterwards? Where did you go?

Doodlebus61 karma

I went down the tubes for years. I bounced around from home to home. I took every substance possible to numb myself out. Brutal time that robbed me of my innocence

[deleted]16 karma

Wow. What a very intense experience.

Doodlebus19 karma

Yeah, a "life changer" for sure.

fearthejew14 karma

You are stronger than I am.

Doodlebus20 karma

I doubt it, it's all relative.

fearthejew20 karma

Can this be a "trust me" moment?

Doodlebus13 karma


[deleted]13 karma


Doodlebus13 karma

I love Albuquerque, went to Albuquerque high.

MaximumDeer50 karma

I also went to Albuquerque high.

Doodlebus8 karma


MyHoovesClack13 karma

How long did it take you to realize it wasn't your fault, and who/what made you realize that?

Doodlebus39 karma

Took me about 10 years. I was tired of carrying the guilt around, I let it go. It rears its ugly head now and then but I'm older and wiser; I know it's not my fault.

MyHoovesClack7 karma

Thanks for answering so quickly, did you go to any type of therapy, or did you just "wait it out"?

Doodlebus21 karma

I had on and off therapy when I was younger. Lots of therapy when I became an adult. Self medicated for years.

bacardiaddict13 karma

I hope that everything is now getting better for you, I lost my father through different circumstances when I was 14 and this is the eighth year since then. I know what it's like when you lose people you love way too soon. I have to ask, apart from the alcohol and drug abuse, how did you manage to cope? Do you believe that they are watching over you every day? I believe that my dad is watching over me and it makes me happy knowing that he is proud of me out there somewhere still.

Doodlebus14 karma

I was in denial for years, I thought he was still out there somewhere. Id see somebody who looked like him and I'd run up to the person. In my 20's, I jumped into work to cope. Work was wonderful for numbing everything but wasn't healthy. I now write, talk and hike as coping skills.

I'm sorry for your loss and I do believe that our lost ones are with us all the time.

bacardiaddict6 karma

Ah, I was in shock for a long time after he died as it was so sudden, i burst into tears a lot. I found myself dreaming of him a lot too. Did you ever dream about them at all?

I'm sorry for your losses too. Empathy is a wonderful thing, I got annoyed with people who were being fake and sympathetic at the time he died, but I was a teen and dealing with a lot of complicated emotions at the time.

Doodlebus12 karma

I dreamed about him so much that I didn't want to wake up - ever. I didn't want to leave him.

The people who were fake or shallow when I lost my dad are still on my "fuck you" list. So easy to see through people like that.

You doing ok now?

Doodlebus10 karma

In my adult life, I had to go through something equally horrific with my daughter. I've also written about it: http://moomock.blogspot.com/2010/04/our-day-in-hell-part-1.html?zx=50cf882548df95c6

[deleted]12 karma

Every year something awful happens during the Balloon Fiesta. I know people enjoy it but I almost wish they'd stop it.

I'm sorry that your family went through that horrible situation :(

Doodlebus17 karma

I wish they would stop it too but there is way too much money involved.

[deleted]11 karma

Don't let yourself continually think 'What if I had done this or this' That will just drive you crazy. I'm not a person who believes in god or anything but I do believe stuff happens for a reason. You can't blame yourself. You obviously tried to plan a fun family day and no one could've predicted what happened. Stay strong!

Doodlebus17 karma

Thank you!

Doodlebus10 karma


Name_Not_Available10 karma

Who took care of you after the event? And who helped you with the legal aspect of things.

Doodlebus34 karma

I bounced from home to home, ending up with my grandparents; they were lifesavers. My grandfather was an attorney and took care of the nasty legal stuff.

dietotaku9 karma

the text says the officers mentioned "mr. and mrs. wilson," but the newspaper clippings talk about "nick brainard." why the discrepancy?

it also sounds like the plan was just for them to watch the balloons launch, not get in one. do you have any idea why they decided to get in?

Doodlebus11 karma

I changed the names because of my x wife's litigation against me. I'll change it all back to my name - Brainard soon; the litigation is over.

motorcityvicki8 karma

So... yeah... read your whole blog.

This would be the first wife, mother of your first two? I know you shouldn't post about such things publicly, but what in the sweet weeping fuck could she possibly be suing you for?? If your blog is even remotely unbiased, it should really be the other way around.

Doodlebus8 karma

She wanted me to never speak a word about what happened. She sued me numerous time, never won and got into a lot of trouble.

ChronicSilence7 karma

What really gets me is that had people kept their wits about them and not jumped out immediately, everyone could have lived. It's sad to think that it could have been avoided even after the fire.

Doodlebus12 karma

This bothers me too and I bet they've regretted it their entire life.

Doodlebus6 karma

You are 100% CORRECT.

fizzyizzy116 karma

i'm no suggesting anything, but have you ever had any suicidal thoughts or anything?

Doodlebus9 karma

Oh yes, for many years, it was intense, I'm surprised I'm alive.

theeterrbear5 karma

"There was a gold colored band present around the left ring finger..."

A story about someone getting their life turned around and on track... and then...

I think I'm going to call my parents and tell them how much I love them.

Doodlebus8 karma

Please do, I'm very vocal to the important people in my life about my love for them.

EasterEggz5 karma

So.. you sued someone, right?

Doodlebus18 karma

Yes - Lloyd's of London, the insurance company.

[deleted]5 karma

Wait - I just read above that there wasn't an insurance settlement. I believe you mentioned you were awarded a small stipend from the law suit. Without being too nosy, may I ask what happened? I'm positive there are scores of people here who have also had issues battling it out with various other insurance agencies.

Doodlebus3 karma

No life insurance, we sued the balloons insurance company "Lloyd's of London". If I could do it over, I would have held out for a lot more.

[deleted]3 karma

What I'm curious about though is what you specifically sued over. Well actually, more like why Loyd's of London chose not to pay the insurance amount in the first place. It seems like an incredibly dickish move on their part (although insurance companies have never been considered nice to begin with).

Doodlebus3 karma

Insurance companies are brutal. We sued for the faulty valve which was the manufacturers fault.

I should have gotten millions, didn't even come close to that.

excelcior5 karma

Has the incident made you stronger as a person?

Doodlebus19 karma

Very much so. I've also found its helped me to help others who've had tragic events.

Doodlebus12 karma

Very much so. I've also found its helped me to help others who've had tragic events.

excelcior5 karma

I was also going to ask if it has caused you any physical problems. I remember my friend (whose father had passed) developed insomnia and had awful nightmares for the first few months.

Doodlebus5 karma

I've had horrible nighmares and insomnia ever since. Interesting you bringing this up.

nottheluckiestoker4 karma

Man, this is brutally upsetting. I hope you can push through this.

Doodlebus3 karma

Thank you.

Doodlebus3 karma

I will

butatwutcost4 karma

Did you know your stepmother's family? Was there any animosity toward you on their side?

Doodlebus5 karma

They weren't mad at me. We all tracked each other down a few years back. Turns out I had a brother who lived very close to me and I never knew it.

lstelo4 karma

Do you draw-paint or sketch?

Doodlebus3 karma

No, I wish I did, it would have been a wonderful release. I've started writing though.

bwieland4 karma

Let's hear a little about your wife and kids.

Doodlebus3 karma

Well, my wife is from Hungary, I met her about 5 years ago. She works with disabled children.

My oldest daughter has Cerebral Palsy, she was injured at a hospital in Albuquerque. I've been writing a lot about her: http://moomock.blogspot.com/2010/04/our-day-in-hell-part-1.html

My youngest daughter is so COOL, she's my pal.

My son turned 1 yesterday (Cinco de Mayo!).

scalliwagon3 karma

I am so sorry for your loss. I do have a question. How did this event affect your relationships with other family members? Did they blame you as you blamed yourself?

Doodlebus6 karma

I don't think anybody blamed me but they walked on eggshells when they were around me after that. Very uncomfortable for me.

wellhushmypuppies3 karma

I know it's hard to believe this, but ultimately the decision to go into that balloon was theirs. believe me, I'm not saying it's their fault! but you made a case for them doing that based on what you thought was best for them and they listened to you. There wasn't a shred of anything evil in your suggestion and sometimes, as it happens, horrible, horrible things happen when they just shouldn't.

I'm so sorry for your loss, but I'm glad you have time to create a bond with your father and stepmother.

Unless i missed it, you don't say what happened to your birth mother. is it ok for me to ask?

Stay strong, and cherish the memories you were able to create with them.

Doodlebus3 karma

He's a mess, I havent talked to him in years.

Sher1013 karma

It's just onions...just onions ;-( Wish I could have been there for you man, I have had a fair share of deaths around me too, I know how bad that can feel around the time of death and then at random moments afterwards. Valar morghulis.

Doodlebus4 karma

Onions get me too once and a while!


jadamw3 karma

Thank you very much for sharing your story. Reading the questions and responses made my day as I'm it did the same for others. It reminds you that you can always count on Reddit to have your back. I'm sorry about your parents. Now, I must ask:

-Were you close with your Step-Mom?

Doodlebus5 karma

I was, she and I were VERY close. My natural mom was a mess at the time so I was drawn to PJ. She was such a happy and funny lady who was always up for fun. I miss her terribly to this day.