Carley McCord, the daughter-in-law of LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger, was a freelance sports reporter with WDSU-TV and in-game host for the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans. She had a rising career as a journalist before losing her life in a plane crash.
McCord was one of five people who perished in a small plane crash in Louisiana. She was only 30 years old. Her husband confirmed her death to The Associated Press. The other four victims were associated with Global Data Systems, a company in Lafayette.
McCord and the others were traveling to see the Peach Bowl when the plane crashed near Lafayette, WDSU-TV reported. On LinkedIn, Carley described herself as “Sideline Reporter/Radio Host/Broadcast Professional.” A Baton Rouge native, McCord held a variety of positions in sports journalism over the years. The plane crash’s cause is not yet clear; those who knew Carley described her as a rising sports sideline reporter with a vibrant personality.
“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.”
Ensminger wiped away tears and was embraced by LSU’s quarterback at the game. WVLA sports director Brian Holland described to CNN how people were giving Steve Ensminger hugs to offer him support and how he came out of the locker room with “tears in his eyes” and was “emotional” on the field. “He’s not one to usually wear his emotions on his sleeve, but he certainly has today,” said Holland.
People offered praise that Ensminger was still coaching despite the tragedy. LSU won the game 63-28.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Small Plane Crashed Shortly After Takeoff & There Was Only One Survivor
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.
The other victims were named by WAFB-TV as: Ian E. Biggs, the plane’s pilot, age 51; Robert Vaughn Crisp II, age 59; Gretchen D. Vincent, age 51; and Michael Walker Vincent, age 15. Stephen Wade Berzas, 37, was a passenger in the plane but survived and was taken to the hospital. Crisp, Berzas, and Biggs were all affiliated with a Lafayette company named Global Data Systems, and Vincent and Michael were the wife and son of that company’s president. You can see a roundup of tributes to each victim here.
Gretchen Vincent was an LSU graduate who lived in Lafayette, according to her Facebook page. 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! ??”
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. 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.”
2. McCord Worked as a Freelance Sideline & Sports Reporter Who Was an In-Game Host for the New Orleans Saints
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.”
3. McCord Expressed Pride in Her Father-in-Law, LSU’s Offensive Coordinator
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.”
Ensminger will coach Saturday’s game despite the tragedy, the Advocate reported.
According to her LinkedIn page, Carley received a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from Louisiana State University in 2013. She also studied at Northwestern State University and the New York Film Academy.
In college, she listed her activities as “Criminal Justice Club, Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority, Demon VIP, Miss Northwestern State University 2010.”
Her Instagram story contains a graphic that reads, “Only rainbows. After rain, the sun will always come again.”
The NBA has released a tribute to McCord that you can see here.
4. Carley, a Miss Louisiana Runner-up, Was Married to Steve Ensminger Jr. Since 2018
On Facebook, Steve Ensminger Jr. filled his page with photos showing him with Carley. His page says he studied at Louisiana Tech University, went to West Monroe High School, was from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and lived in Baton Rouge.
People filled Ensminger’s Facebook page with condolences after Carley’s death. On Twitter, Ensminger once shared a wedding photo and wrote, “I can’t say enough about this girl! I’m the luckiest man in the world to finally call her my wife! She is my world and she has my heart forever! I love you Carley! @CarleyMcCord #justmarried #happilyeverensminger.”
According to The Advocate, McCord was a “2007 St. Michael graduate and Miss Louisiana runner up for 2011 and 2012.”
She married her husband in 2018, the newspaper reported.
5. The Station Expressed Its ‘Tremendous’ Sorrow, Calling McCord an ‘Extraordinary Woman’
WDSU’s news director released a statement praising Carley McCord.
“Words cannot express the tremendous amount of sorrow our entire staff holds for Carley and her family,” said WDSU News Director, Akili Franklin. “She was an extraordinary woman and a talented reporter. We offer our deepest condolences to her family and friends. She will be severely missed.”
McCord last posted on Facebook on Christmas Day, writing, “Many are fortunate to have a happy spirit on Christmas Day. Let’s take a moment to pray for those struggling internally. Merry Christmas!”
On December 14, she wrote, “I had the best interview with Teddy Bridgewater last night on @coxsportstv. He told us he heard there was football being played, so he rode his bike to the dome. He parked it in the tunnel, waved at the security guards and casually sat on the bench. Low key. Ya know? #ILoveMyJob #womeninsports #teddyteddyteddy @saints.”
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