Five dead after small plane crashes in Louisiana
The plane was en route to Atlanta.
A small plane en route to a college American football play-off game has crashed into the car park of a post office in Louisiana shortly after take-off, killing the daughter-in-law of one of the team’s coaches and four other people on board.
The two-engined Piper Cheyenne crashed in the city of Lafayette about a mile from the regional airport where the flight began, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Tony Molinaro said.
Lafayette Fire Chief Robert Benoit said a sixth person on board is being treated in hospital along with two people who were in the post office.
Steven Ensminger Jr, son of a coach with the Louisiana State University team, said his wife, Carley McCord, was on the flight and died when it crashed. He said the plane was en route to the Peach Bowl game in Atlanta between LSU and Oklahoma.
Mr Ensminger said he was unable to go to the game and was at work when the crash happened. He said his father, Steven Ensminger, called him just before the elder Ensminger got to the stadium. The coach had tears in his eyes when he appeared on the field at the start of the game on Saturday afternoon.
“I just don’t feel like this is real,” Mr Ensminger Jr said. “I’m praying it’s not real.”
Video and photos showed a trail of scorched and burning grass around the crash site. A blackened car sat in the post office car park, which was carpeted with scattered tree limbs.
Four people were taken to hospital: one from the plane, one on the ground and two post office employees, said Lafayette Fire Department spokesman Alton Trahan.
The plane went down in a part of the city with a scattering of banks, fast food chains and other businesses.
Marty Brady, 22, said the lights went out at his apartment a couple of hundred yards from the crash site.
He said he ran out and saw black smoke and flames from the post office car park and downed power lines.
“There were some people screaming and somebody yelled that it was a plane,” he said.
He said the plane clipped a power line over the gate to his apartment complex.
“If it had been a little lower, it could have been a lot worse,” he said.
Kevin Jackson told KLFY-TV he heard a “massive explosion” and saw a “big old ball of flame” when the plane crashed. He and other witnesses told the TV station the plane hit a car as it fell, and that someone could be heard screaming inside the vehicle.
Ms McCord was a sports reporter for WDSU-TV in New Orleans, according to her website. She also appeared as a sideline reporter for ESPN. She previously worked in television in Cleveland, and was a two-time runner-up in the Miss Louisiana pageant.