A private airplane crash killed five people and injured four others Saturday in Lafayette, Louisiana, shortly after takeoff. Among those confirmed dead are Carley Ann McCord, a sports journalist who was on her way to watch the college football playoff game in Atlanta between Louisiana State University and Oklahoma.
Authorities investigating the crash said the airplane crash occurred at 9:22 a.m. shortly after the eight-seat Piper Fixed Wing Multi-Engine aircraft took off from Lafayette Regional Airport (LFT). The plane reportedly was attempting to make an emergency landing when, according to witnesses, it struck a power line and crashed in the parking lot of a U.S. post office a mile west of the airport near the intersection of Feu Follet and Verot School Road.
“I saw the plane coming in and it was really low to the ground and it was shaking,” one witness told WVUE Channel 8 New Orleans. The witnesses said the plane struck a Suburban and a Jeep as it “skated through a parking lot at the post office.”
In addition to Ms. McCord, the airplane crash killed Ian Biggs, 51, the pilot; Robert Vaughn Crisp, II, 59; Gretchen D. Vincent, 51; and Michael Walker Vincent, 15. Another passenger, Stephen Wade Berzas, 37, survived the crash and was taken to a local hospital in critical condition.
Three people on the ground were also injured. One person who was in her car and two people at the post office were taken to a local hospital for treatment. The impact of the airplane crash also blew out the windows of the post office and forced the evacuation of the nearby Walmart.
Ms. McCord, 30, was the daughter-in-law of LSU Offensive Coordinator Steve Ensminger. Mr. Ensminger learned of Ms. McCord’s death hours before the game. Mr. Ensminger promised his son Steve, who was taken to the hospital and sedated upon hearing the news of his wife’s death, that LSU would beat Oklahoma.
According to WDSU-TV, Ms. McCord was a freelance sideline and sports reporter for various networks, including Cox Sports Television, ESPN3, and WDSU-TV. She was also the digital media reporter for the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and the in-game host for the New Orleans Pelicans and the New Orleans Saints.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) sent a team of investigators to Lafayette to open a probe of the crash. investigators on Sunday said the pilot of the plane made no distress calls. They also said that much of the aircraft was crushed and consumed by fire. The plane had been airborne for about a minute when it crashed.