Five people died when a small plane crashed on the way to the Peach Bowl shortly after takeoff from the airport in Lafayette, Louisiana. The victims included a local sports reporter who was the daughter-in-law of LSU’s offensive coordinator, an executive with Global Data Systems, and the wife and son of the company’s president. The company pilot also died.
Carley McCord, a freelance sports reporter with WDSU-TV and an in-game host for the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans, was the first victim named in the crash. She was only 30 years old. Carley was the daughter-in-law of LSU’s offensive coordinator, Steve Ensminger. Her husband confirmed her death to The Associated Press.
According to The Associated Press, the small plane “crashed into the parking lot of a post office in Louisiana shortly after takeoff on Saturday,” December 28, 2019.
Five people died. A car on the ground burst into flames. The plane crashed about 1 mile from Lafayette Regional Airport and it was going to a “college football playoff game in Atlanta between Louisiana State University and Oklahoma,” according to the AP. A motorist on the ground was wounded from debris.
According to KLFY, the plane was owned by Cheyenne Partners, LLC, and was headed to DeKalb-Peachtree Airport in Atlanta, Ga., but “only achieved an altitude of around 375 feet before crashing.”
Here’s what you need to know about each victim:
McCord was on her way to see the Peach Bowl when the plane crashed near Lafayette, Louisiana. On LinkedIn, Carley described herself as “Sideline Reporter/Radio Host/Broadcast Professional.” She held a variety of positions in sports journalism over the years.
“I am absolutely devastated,” wrote J.K. Lockhart on Facebook, echoing other tributes from those who knew Carley.
“Everyone who knew Carley Ann was just waiting for her to hit ESPN and take the country by storm. She was one of the most driven people I’ve ever known. I’ll miss her spot on fantasy football advice, shade towards THE Ohio State University, her fierce loyalty to her father-in-law when people tried to bash his play calling, and how she never took herself too seriously. I hope Coach E calls the game of his life tonight in her honor.”
Carley wrote on Facebook that she was “Host (radio) at 104.5 ESPN Baton Rouge,” and “Former Morning Co-Host at CBS” and “Former Broadcast Journalist at Cleveland Browns.” She lived and was from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
According to WDSU, Carley “was a freelance sideline and sports reporter for various networks including: Cox Sports Television, ESPN3 and WDSU-TV.”
WDSU added: “Carley was the digital media reporter for the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and the in-game host for the New Orleans Pelicans and the New Orleans Saints.”
On LinkedIn, Carley gave these positions: sideline/field reporter for Cox Sports Television & ESPN, doing “In-game TV sideline reporter for professional and college sports.” She also wrote that she was “in-game host” since 2017 for the New Orleans Saints. “Host of games, information and promotions during the games. Also responsible for hosting events and community functions held within the organization,” she wrote.
In addition, she was “in-game host” for the New Orleans Pelicans. “Live arena host during game time. Responsible for hosting promotions, games and in-game information. Also responsible for hosting events held within the organization.”
For WDSU, she wrote that she was “responsible for reporting on local and national sports headlines. I work with local colleges and professional teams to provide coverage on their games and events.”
On LinkedIn, she indicated that she was previously on-air talent/reporter for Guaranty Media in Baton Rouge, where she was “co-host of “He Said, She Said” on 104.5 ESPN Baton Rouge. Mid-day host on 100.7 The Tiger.” She was a CBS Radio on-air personality in Cleveland. She worked as a co-host for NFLVR Live! for the Cleveland Browns. She was a Tiger TV Sports Showtime reporter.
As for the latter position, she wrote: “Responsible for reporting on LSU athletics. Work with producers to determine story topics. Operate cameras and shoot various LSU sporting events. Attend press conferences and practices. Interview athletes and coaches. Appear on air to analyze sport topics and deliver information.”
McCord “was the daughter-in-law of LSU Offensive Coordinator Steve Ensminger,” WDSU reported. She expressed pride about Steve’s accomplishments on Facebook, writing, “That’s my father-in-law ?? #SOPROUD.” She married Ensminger’s son, Steve, in 2018.
Gretchen D. Vincent & Her Son Michael Walker Vincent
Gretchen Vincent was an LSU graduate who lived in Lafayette, according to her Facebook page. She is pictured above with her husband, who was not on the plane.
Although authorities gave Gretchen’s son’s name as Michael Walker Vincent, 15, social media posts show he was called Walker. According to the Advocate, Walker “was a junior at Episcopal Ascension high school in Lafayette.”
Vincent’s husband Chris Vincent is the president of Global Data Systems. Walker hoped to be a pilot, according to KTBS-TV.
A friend wrote on Facebook of Vincent and her son, “Growing old is a privilege denied to many! Live each day to the fullest! Life is short! Rest In Peace, Gretchen David Vincent with your handsome son, Walker. You had a zest for life and enjoyed it to the fullest! You will definitely be missed by many. May God bring solace & comfort to your family! Prayers for all whose lives you touched! ??”
Another friend wrote, “Everyone please pray for me friend Gretchen David Vincent and her family????????”
Another friend offered this tribute: “This was her face of determination when she got an idea in her head! Her heart was as big as her sense of fashion and her love for LSU! She stepped up for me during my time in need and I will hold you close to heart forever! God speed Gretchen David Vincent!”
Yet another friend wrote on Facebook, “RIP Gretchen David Vincent I will forever remember your kindness, hard work and good heart❤️. No matter how successful you were, you always loved big,hugged tight and I will never forget you!
Another friend wrote, “Thank you Lord Jesus for the time my family had with the lovely, selfless, beautiful-hearted Gretchen David Vincent who ALWAYS showed up when her friends were in need and the bold, strong-willed, outgoing, great friend of 13 years to our Callie, Walker Vincent. It has been said that “only the good die young” and nothing could be more true in this instance. God must’ve needed them in His LSU box up in Heaven for something really special. We miss you both so very much already. We will love you always!?”
Robert Vaughn Crisp II
Crisp was age 59 and vice president of operations at Global Data Systems.
The company’s website says it provides “strategic services, ongoing management and 24×7 support to ensure the performance and reliability of your IT systems.”
A co-worker wrote on Facebook, “I will miss you Vaughn. The office will not be the same without you running around rallying the troops. ❤”
The company’s website says of Crisp: “Vaughn has more than 30 years of experience in the telecommunications and data industries, from field tech for a local telephone company to successfully building his own cabling business. He joined GDS in 2008 as VP of Sales for the energy market, then became VP of Sales over all markets in 2014. In 2016, Vaughn took over the GDS Operations Department building a very successful team enabling him to take this next step in his career. He is passionate about understanding customers’ business needs and challenging the GDS team to meet those needs while achieving their own personal and professional goals.”
Ian E. Biggs
According to WAFB-TV, Ian E. Biggs was the plane’s pilot. He was 51 years old. “My condolences goes out to Ian’s family. Great guy who will be missed,” wrote a friend on Facebook.
Biggs’ LinkedIn page said he was “Pilot /Global Data Systems & Southern Lifestyle Development” and based in Lafayette. He had held the position since 2001.
Survived: Stephen Wade Berzas
Stephen Wade Berzas, 37, was a passenger in the plane but survived and was taken to the hospital. He also works for Global Data Systems.
“Wade leads the sales and marketing teams to drive company growth by identifying customer needs and ensuring high standards of customer service are met. When he first joined GDS in 2012, he focused on helping the company grow its oil and gas communications business, leveraging his 10 years of experience in the oil and gas industry. Since then, he has built his knowledge of communications, connectivity, cybersecurity and other technologies, and helps to map GDS product and service offerings to customer requirements,” says his company profile.
AP reported that the plane clipped a power line at an apartment complex before crashing. According to WAFB-TV, the aircraft was a “Piper Fixed Wing Multi-Engine aircraft.” That station reported that the plane crashed into an open field around 9 a.m.
“The NTSB is investigating today’s crash in Lafayette, LA involving a Piper PA-31T,” the NTSB wrote on Twitter.
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