Grant Adamson, a scion of Malibu's founding family, died early Tuesday when a hot-air balloon carrying him and his family crashed near the western Swiss town of Montbovon.
Swiss police said the Adamsons were on a vacation outing when the balloon fell 165 feet after crashing into an electric power line while trying to land after a two-hour flight from the town of Chateau-d'Oex.
Adamson's death was first reported in the Malibu Times.
Adamson, 55, died at the scene. His wife, Terry, and two daughters, ages 20 and 24, were evacuated by helicopter to a hospital with life-threatening injuries.
The 65-year-old pilot also was seriously injured and was taken to the hospital by ambulance, police said.
Authorities have opened an investigation.
Grant Adamson was with Mariposa Land Co., which holds properties that have been in his family's hands for more than a century. He was also a member of the advisory board of Pepperdine University's Crest Associates, a community support group.
It was the Adamson family's donation of vacant land that brought Pepperdine to Malibu in 1972.
"He was an incredible gentleman," said Steve Soboroff, a developer who dealt with Adamson many times over the years.