A pilot and four passengers were killed when a twin-engine plane with six people on board crashed in Louisiana yesterday 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 37-year-old Stephen Berzas.
Three other persons, including two U.S. postal employees, who were on the ground at the time of the crash, suffered injuries.
Officials released the names of those killed as 51-year-old Ian Biggs, 59-year-old Robert Crisp II, 30-year-old Carley Ann McCord, 51-year-old Gretchen Vincent and 15-year-old Micahel Vincent.
McCord was a sports reporter for WDSU-TV in New Orleans and the daughter-in-law of LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger.
Her husband confirmed she was riding in a private plane from Lafayette headed to Atlanta with friends for the LSU-Oklahoma College Football Playoff Semifinal.
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 said the incident took place at 9:22 a.m. 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.
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.
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.
It was not immediately known if there was a distress call from the plane before the crash.