Five people have died and one person has reportedly been left with life-changing burns after a small plane crashed nearby a Walmart supermarket in Louisiana.
Authorities confirmed the two-engine Piper Cheyenne crashed into the car park of a post office, about one mile from the Lafayette Regional Airport.
It plummeted to the ground shortly after taking off on Saturday morning at 9.22am local time. Initial reports say the pilot was attempting an emergency landing at the nearby airport.
It is understood that six people were on board the plane at the time of the accident but five were later confirmed dead.
WDSU sports reporter, Carley McCord, has been confirmed dead in the accident by her husband Steven Ensminger Jr.
The journalist was on the way to a college football playoff game, and her father-in-law is believed to be the offensive coordinator for Louisiana State University’s football team, which were playing against Oklahoma later today.
‘We are devastated by the loss of such an amazing talent and valued member of our WDSU family,’ said Joel Vilmenay, WDSU president and general manager.
‘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.’
One person suffered 100 per cent burns to their body and a bystander was injured in the accident, according to KPEL.
Four people were rushed to hospital – one from the plane, one on the ground and two post office employees who were brought in for evaluation, Mr Trahan said.
Videos and images showed the aircraft engulfed in flames in the car park, leaving behind a trail of scorching and smoking debris. A burnt-out car sat in the post office parking area, which was carpeted with scattered tree limbs.
A nearby Walmart was evacuated for safety, while witnesses described seeing the plane skidding through the car park before going up in flames.
Police said a vehicle in the car park was engulfed in flames when they arrived at the scene and a person inside it was rushed to hospital.
Reports say the eight-passenger plane was en route to Atlanta when it crashed, leaving many local businesses and homes without power.
Marty Brady, 22, said the lights went out at his apartment a couple of hundred yards or so away from the crash site as he was preparing to make a coffee.
He said he ran out and saw black smoke and flames from the post office car park and cut out power lines.
‘There were some people screaming and somebody yelled that it was a plane,’ he said.
Mr Brady 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.
Investigators are working to establish the cause of the crash.
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