LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) – A small plane crashed into the parking lot of a post office in Louisiana shortly after takeoff on Saturday, killing five people and fully engulfing a car on the ground in flames, authorities said.
The two-engine Piper Cheyenne crashed about 1 mile from the Lafayette Regional Airport, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Tony Molinaro said.
The plane was en route to a college football playoff game in Atlanta between Louisiana State University and Oklahoma, said Steven Ensminger Jr., who told The Associated Press that his wife, Carley McCord, was on board. Ensminger Jr. is the son of the offensive coordinator for the LSU football team. McCord was a sports reporter.
Information from Flightaware.com showed flight N42CV, a twin-engine turbo prop Piper owned by Cheyenne Partners LLC, took off from Lafayette at 9:20 Saturday and was headed for DeKalb-Peachtree Airport near Atlanta, Georgia.
According to the site, the flight seemed to reach a speed of around 192 mph and reached an altitude of 375 ft. before the crash. The impact of the crash blew out the windows at the US Post Office.
The passengers of the plane have been confirmed as follows:
- Ian E. Biggs, the plane’s pilot, age 51
- Robert Vaughn Crisp II, age 59
- Carley Ann McCord, age 30
- Gretchen D. Vincent, age 51
- Michael Walker Vincent, age 15
One injured plane passenger remains hospitalized and in critical condition:
- Stephen Wade Berzas, age 37
UPDATE, 11:06 a.m.: Lafayette Fire Chief Robert Benoit confirms the craft was an eight-passenger plane. There is one survivor from the crash in addition to the five fatalities. Three people on the ground not affiliated with the plane have been transported to the hospital. Local first responders are awaiting federal investigators, who will release further information.
UPDATE, 10:52 a.m.: Lafayette Fire Chief Robert Benoit confirms five fatalities at the scene. Acadian Ambulance confirms two people transported to local hospitals, one from the plane, one from outside the plane — possibly the motorist that was struck by plane debris.
ORIGINAL POST: LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — The Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office confirms that a plane has crashed near the post office on Feu Follet Road near Verot School Road at around 9:20 Saturday morning.
There appear to be unconfirmed fatalities and injuries, possibly as many as five people. The craft appears to be a small private plane, possibly a Piper fixed-wing, though that is currently unconfirmed, as well.
The Walmart on Pinhook Road has been evacuated as a precaution.
Acadian Ambulance responded to the crash of a small civilian airplane in Lafayette (La) this morning and transported two patients to a local hospital. pic.twitter.com/f0SKqNJI7V— Acadian Companies (@AcadianNews) December 28, 2019
Eyewitnesses tell KLFY the scene say they heard sounds from above “like a semi-truck” as the lights went out at businesses and residences near the crash scene. Several residents tell KLFY they are without power at this hour.
Kevin Jackson, a local resident, said he saw the crash.
“I was right outside before the crash. I noticed (the plane) was low and smoking like hell,” said Jackson. “It shook my trailer. I knew something was bad. I went in my house, and all you heard was this massive explosion.”
Jackson and other eyewitnesses said the plane also hit a car on its way down.
“Someone was screaming from that car,” said one eyewitness. “There were little explosions for five minutes or so after that. There was a big old ball of flame.”