Five passengers were killed and one was injured when a small plane crashed shortly after takeoff in Lafayette, La., on Saturday, according to officials.
The two-engine Piper Cheyenne was en route to a Louisiana State University football playoff game in Atlanta. Sports reporter Carley McCord, the daughter-in-law of LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger, was among those killed. Her husband, Steven Ensminger Jr., confirmed her death to The Associated Press.
The Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame mourns the loss of our colleague and friend Carley McCord. Our thoughts and prayers go out to family and friends as they try to cope with this tragedy. pic.twitter.com/vm3rUm0gv4— Louisiana Sports HOF (@LaSportsHall) December 28, 2019
The eight-passenger aircraft crashed into a post office parking lot at 9:22 a.m., less than a few miles from where it had taken off at the Lafayette Regional Airport, Lafayette Fire Chief Robert Benoit told reporters.
Lafayette authorities identified the other victims as Ian E. Biggs, 51, the plane's pilot; Robert Vaughn Crisp II, 59; Gretchen D. Vincent, 51; and Michael Walker Vincent, 15.
The only survivor from the plane, Stephen Wade Berzas, was taken to the hospital in critical condition, according to the AP.
Several of the victims worked for or were connected to a family-owned Lafayette tech company, Global Data Systems, including the pilot, the Advocate reported.
Three people on the ground were transported to the hospital for injuries, Benoit said.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for Danielle Truxillo Britt, who is suffering from severe burns. According to the fundraising page, her vehicle flipped and caught fire during the airplane crash.
Officials have not identified a cause for the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board announced via Twitter that Vice Chairman Bruce Landsberg and an eight-person team were sent to the scene to investigate the crash.
Lafayette police asked residents to steer clear of the area of the crash because the investigation is ongoing.
McCord was a Baton Rouge native and freelance sideline and sports reporter for networks including Cox Sports Television, ESPN3 and WDSU New Orleans, according to her website. She also worked as an in-game host for the New Orleans Pelicans and the New Orleans Saints and as a digital media reporter for the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.
Statement from the New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans pic.twitter.com/1WhBvJmjI5— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) December 28, 2019
"We are devastated by the loss of such an amazing talent and valued member of our WDSU family," WDSU President and General Manager Joel Vilmenay said in a statement. "Carley's passion for sports journalism and her deep knowledge of Louisiana sports, from high school to the professional ranks, made her an exceptional journalist. "
McCord is the second journalist working in the area to die in a plane crash this year. In August, TV news anchor Nancy Parker was doing a story about a stunt pilot when the plane crashed and both she and the pilot died.
LSU Tigers offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger got the news of his daughter-in-law's death a few hours before the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl playoff. Ensminger went on to coach the game, helping the team win 63-28 against Oklahoma.
"We heard the news, I told Coach Ensminger, our thoughts and our prayers [go] out to him," LSU head coach Ed Orgeron told ESPN before the game. "There's not much we can say, obviously. Steve and his wife and his family are very distraught. But you know, Steve is a Tiger and a man. He knows how to handle things."