NTSB: Possible Cause Released in Fatal 2019 Lafayette Plane Crash
The National Transportation Safety Board has released some findings from its investigation into a deadly 2019 plane crash in Lafayette.
The crash took place on December 28, 2019, near the intersection of Feu Follet and Verot School Road, with the aircraft coming down in the United States Post Office parking lot.
The aircraft, a Piper PA 31T (similar to the one pictured below), had just departed from the Lafayette Regional Airport on its way to the Dekalb-Peachtree Airport (PDK), Atlanta, Georgia for the Peach Bowl, in which LSU was a contender.
5 people perished in the crash and 4 people were injured.
The fatalities included the pilot, Ian E. Biggs, 51; Robert Vaughn Crisp, II, 59; Carley Ann McCord, 30; Gretchen D. Vincent, 51; and Michael Walker Vincent, 15.
Another passenger, Stephen Wade Berzas, was critically injured in the crash, and three other individuals who were not passengers were injured on the ground.
According to the report from the National Transportation Safety Board, the aircraft had just taken off from the Lafayette airport when it began to "pitch up". According to the NTSB report, the aircraft never broke an altitude of 925 feet.
The report outlines weather conditions for the day, which included cloud cover and limited visibility.
The pilot of the aircraft received a "surface observing system" report that indicated "a visibility of 0.75 mile in mist and a vertical visibility of 200 ft above ground level" which, according to the NTSB, are conditions conducive to causing spatial disorientation.
It is the findings of the National Transportation Safety Board that the cause of the crash was likely the pilot becoming disoriented during the take-off.
The airplane struck trees and power lines before striking the ground, traveled across a parking lot, and struck a car. The car rolled several times and came to rest inverted at the edge of the parking lot, and a postcrash fire ensued. The airplane continued to travel, shedding parts before coming to rest at the far end of an adjacent field. At the accident site, the surviving passenger told a local police officer that “the plane went straight up and then straight down.” - NTSB
The NTSB provided a graphic that outlined the flight path of the aircraft that morning.
According to the NTSB, the airplane was not equipped with nor was it required to be equipped with a cockpit voice recorder or flight data recorder.