5 killed in Louisiana plane crash, including daughter-in-law of LSU assistant coach

A small passenger plane crashed in a field in Lafayette, Louisiana, on Saturday, killing five people and injuring four others, the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office confirmed. Five people are confirmed dead, the Sheriff’s Office reported. One of the fatalities was a digital sports reporter for a New Orleans television station, who was the daughter-in-law of LSU’s offensive coordinator.

LSU was set to play Oklahoma in the college football national semifinals Saturday afternoon at the Peach Bowl in Atlanta.

Lafayette Fire Chief Robert Benoit confirmed five fatalities at the scene. KLFY reported. One passenger in the plane survived and was taken to an area hospital, the Daily Advertiser of Lafayette reported. Three bystanders also were hurt, the newspaper reported.

Here are the latest updates:

Update 4:10 p.m. EST Dec. 30: Stephen "Wade" Berzas, the lone survivor among six people aboard a small plane that crashed in Lafayette on Saturday, remains in critical condition with burns over 75% of his body, hospital officials said Monday.

Berzas, 37, underwent a two-hour surgery Monday morning, Our Lady of Lourdes burn unit's medical director Joey Barrios told The Acadiana Advocate.

“He has a long journey ahead and we’ll take this day by day,” Barrios told the newspaper.

Update 11:23 a.m. EST Dec. 29: Authorities identified the sixth person aboard the plane that crashed Saturday in Lafayette, Louisiana, as Stephen Wade Berzas, 37, The Acadiana Advocate reported. Berzas is in critical condition at Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center, the newspaper reported.

Danielle Britt, store manager of Andy’s Jewelry in Lafayette, was injured when the small plane carrying six passengers crashed, according to a Facebook post from her husband, Robby Britt.

Robby Britt said his wife remains hospitalized with burns on 30% percent of her body, “mostly on her right side.”

Update 3:45 p.m. EST Dec. 28: Carley McCord, 30, a sports reporter for WDSU in New Orleans, was one of the fatalities, according to the Lafayette Fire Department.. McCord was the daughter-in-law of LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger.

According to the fire department, the other people killed were Gretchen Vincent, 51; her son, Michael “Walker” Vincent, 15, who would have turned 16 Sunday; Robert Vaughn Crisp II, 59; and Ian Biggs, 51, the plane’s pilot.

Update 3:22 p.m. EST Dec, 28: LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger, the father-in-law of Carley McCord, will coach in the game, school officials confirmed to The Acadiana Advocate. McCord, 30, the wife of Steve Ensminger Jr., was aboard the aircraft that crashed early Saturday in Lafayette, Louisiana. She was a digital sports reporter for WDSU-TV in New Orleans.

Update 3:01 p.m. EST Dec. 28: According to information from the Aviation Safety Network, the Piper aircraft reported six occupants at takeoff on its way to Atlanta-DeKalb Peachtree Airport.

The plane was en route to Atlanta for the college football national semifinal game between LSU and Oklahoma, Steven Ensminger Jr. told The Associated Press. Ensminger said his wife, Carley McCord, 30, a sports reporter for WDSU in New Orleans, was one of the fatalities. McCord was the daughter-in-law of LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger.

"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. "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. As we reflect on her impressive body of work, we offer our deepest condolences to her family."

The owner of a Lafayette jewelry store confirmed that an employee was one of the victims on the ground that was injured after the plane crash, KATC reported.

Update 12:53 p.m. EST Dec. 28: The Federal Aviation Administration said the plane is a Piper Fixed Wing Multi-Engine aircraft, KATC reported. The registered owner of the plane is Cheyenne Partners LLC based out of Lafayette.


According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the two-engine Piper Cheyenne, after departing from the Lafayette Regional Airport, crashed under unknown circumstances one mile west of the airport into the parking lot of the post office, the television station reported.

Original report: A woman was taken to Lafayette General Medical Center and was listed in critical condition, Patricia Thompson, a spokeswoman for Lafayette General Health System, told The New York Times.

"We can’t be sure at this point if she was on the plane or a bystander,” Thompson told the newspaper.

Emergency officials responded to the crash shortly after 9 a.m. in a vacant lot near a U.S. Post Office and a strip mall that includes a Walmart, the Daily Advertiser reported.

The crash occurred in a vacant lot with a U.S. Post Office nearby and a strip mall that includes Walmart.

Witnesses told KLFY they heard sounds from above "like a semi-truck" as the lights went out at businesses and residences near the crash scene. Several residents said they are without power, the television station reported.

Lafayette resident Kevin Jackson said he saw the crash.

"I was right outside before the crash. I noticed (the plane) was low and smoking like hell," Jackson told KLFY. "It shook my trailer. I knew something was bad. I went in my house, and all you heard was this massive explosion."

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