A small private plane bound for a college football game slammed into a parking lot behind a Lafayette, Louisiana, post office and a Walmart on Saturday morning, killing five people on board, officials said.
One passenger survived the crash, which also injured at least three people on the ground, Lafayette Fire Chief Robert Benoit said. One of them had reportedly been driving a car that happened to be in the plane’s path. Images of the rubble show a charred and windowless SUV overturned among tree branches on the asphalt.
The Atlanta-bound flight was ferrying passengers headed to the Peach Bowl, where Louisiana State University was set to face off against the University of Oklahoma on Saturday afternoon, according to The Associated Press.
Officials identified those killed as pilot Ian E. Biggs, 51; Robert Vaughn Crisp II, 59; Carley Ann McCord, 30; Gretchen D. Vincent, 51; and Michael Walker Vincent, 15.
McCord was a local sports reporter for NBC affiliate WDSU. Born and raised in Baton Rouge, she was the daughter-in-law of LSU’s offensive coordinator, Steve Ensminger.
“Words cannot express the tremendous amount of sorrow our entire staff holds for Carley and her family,” WDSU news director Akili Franklin said in a statement. “She was an extraordinary woman and a talented reporter. We offer our deepest condolences to her family and friends. She will be severely missed.”
Firefighters responded to the scene at 9:30 a.m. local time. Video from the scene shows the blackened husk of the plane engulfed by flames that left the brick post office building charred. Other burning parts of the wreck were strewn in an adjoining field.
Nearby residents said the plane clipped a power line as it went down.
“The lights completely shut off, and then we heard a loud boom like a crash, and I heard a girl screaming, ‘It’s a plane,’ as she was running away from it,” resident Rayvin Silas Chevalier told NBC News.
The plane was an eight-seat, twin-engine Piper Cheyenne that went down around one mile from where it took off at Lafayette Regional Airport.
A cause for the crash was not immediately clear. In 2016, a California medical evacuation involving a Piper Cheyenne ended in tragedy when the plane began emitting smoke; investigators determined that bad wiring was likely to blame. The following year, the National Transportation Safety Board issued an urgent safety recommendation regarding wiring issues in Piper Cheyenne model planes that could spark fires.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards called the incident “heartbreaking.”
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