Plane with 6 people on board crashes in Lafayette near Walmart
The pilot and four passengers were killed when a twin-engine plane with six people on board crashed in Louisiana on Saturday morning en route to the Peach Bowl in Georgia to watch LSU play Oklahoma.
Robert Benoit, the fire chief in Lafayette — where the crash took place — confirmed the deaths, while also reporting that the lone surviving passenger had been taken to the hospital in critical condition. That passenger was identified as Stephen Berzas, 37.
Three other persons, including two U.S. postal employees, who were on the ground at the time of the crash, suffered injuries, Lafayette Fire Department spokesman Alton Trahan said.
Officials released the names of those killed on Saturday afternoon. They were identified as Ian Biggs, 51, who was the pilot; Robert Crisp II, 59; Carley Ann McCord, 30; Gretchen Vincent, 51, and Micahel Vincent, 15.
A twin-engine plane with 6 people on board crashed in Lafayette, Louisiana. (Acadian News)
McCord was a sports reporter for WDSU-TV in New Orleans and the daughter-in-law of LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger, the station reported.
Her husband confirmed to The Associated Press that she was riding in a private plane from Lafayette headed to Atlanta with friends for the LSU-Oklahoma College Football Playoff Semifinal.
LSU Offensive Coordinator Steve Ensminger watches teams warm up before the first half of the Peach Bowl NCAA semifinal college football playoff game between LSU and Oklahoma, Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, in Atlanta. Ensminger’s daughter-in-law, Carley McCord, died in a plane crash Saturday in Louisiana on the way to the game. (AP Photo/John Amis)
The New Orleans Saints and New Orlean Pelicans released a joint statement on Saturday about McCord.
“On behalf of Mrs. Gayle Benson and our entire organization, we are devastated by the sudden death of Carley McCord,” they said. “Carley was a valued member of both our New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans family as an in-game host and her infectious personality and knowledge of both teams entertained our fans.”
“Not only was Carley an excellent representative of the Saints and Pelicans organizations, she was also a highly-respected member of the media covering sports, including the Saints and Pelicans, with utmost professionalism for WDSU and CST,” they said.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Carley’s family with this tragic loss,” the teams added.
Lafayette Police Lt. Scott Morgan told Fox News the incident took place at 9:22 a.m. local time after the aircraft departed from Lafayette Regional Airport.
Moments after taking off, the plane crashed in a parking lot near a Walmart and U.S. Post Office building, at the intersection of Verot School Road and Feu Follet – about a mile away from the airport.
Video and photos showed a trail of scorched and burning grass around the crash site. A blackened car sat in the post office parking lot, which was carpeted with scattered tree limbs.
The fire department said in a press release that one vehicle on the ground was fully engulfed by the flames from the crash, which was quickly extinguished.
A view of the burnt wreckage of a plane crash near Feu Follet Road and Verot School Road in Lafayette, La., Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019. Authorities confirmed the accident but details on whether anyone was injured was not immediately known. (The Lafayette Advertiser via AP)
The two post office employees who were injured were also transported to a local hospital for evaluation. Their injuries were not immediately known.
Details on the reason for the crash were not immediately available.
The Federal Aviation Administration said the aircraft was a twin-engine Piper-Cheyenne aircraft registered to Cheyenne Partners LLC, based out of Lafayette. It seated eight and was built in 1980, according to FAA records.
Information on Flightaware.com showed the aircraft took off from Lafayette airport at 9:20 a.m. and was headed to DeKalb-Peachtree Airport in suburban Atlanta.
According to the site, flight N42CV reached a speed of around 192 mph and reached an altitude of 375 feet before crashing.
The plane crashed near a Walmart and U.S. Post Office at the intersection of Verot School Road and Feu Follet. (Acadian News)
Gov. John Bel Edwards expressed his condolences for the “heartbreaking news out of Lafayette.”
“Please join @FirstLadyOfLA and I in praying for the families and friends of everyone affected by this terrible tragedy,” he wrote on Twitter.
Local media reported eyewitnesses saying the plane may have hit a powerline before the crash. The impact blew out some of the windows of the post office.
Eyewitnesses said the plane may have hit a powerline before the crash. The impact blew out some of the windows of the post office. (Acadian News)
“I was right outside before the crash,” resident Kevin Jackson told KLFY. “I noticed (the plane) was low and smoking like hell. It shook my trailer.”
He added: “I knew something was bad. I went in my house, and all you heard was this massive explosion.”
KATC reported that the Walmart store on Pinhook Road was closed and evacuated. All businesses and nearby neighborhoods were without power after the crash.
Fallen tree limbs cover the ground near the site of a plane crash near Feu Follet Road and Verot School Road in Lafayette, La., Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019. Authorities confirmed the accident but details on whether anyone was injured were not immediately known. (The Lafayette Advertiser via AP)
It was not immediately known if there was a distress call from the plane before the crash. Federal investigations were en route to the scene.