Plane breaks apart mid-air killing dad and 2 kids who were set to graduate from college

Friday, May 17, 2024
 - A well-known Louisiana plastic surgeon and his two adult children, who were both two days away from their college graduation, were killed when the small plane they were in broke apart in the air, officials said. 

The single-engine Beechcraft V35 fell apart over Tennessee just south of Nashville around midday Wednesday, May 15, as it was headed from Gonzales, Louisiana, to Louisville. 

Dr. Lucius J. Doucet III and his daughter Giselle and son Jean-Luc were killed in the mid-air crash, officials said. 

The two were set to graduate from Louisiana State University, where Giselle studied veterinary medicine and Jean Luc was an engineering student, according to WAFB 9. 

“It does appear that the flight did break up in the air,” Williamson County Sheriff Mark Elrod told reporters during a Wednesday news conference.

“We are devastated to hear this news, and our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Doucet family and all those close to them,” the school said in a statement. 

“This is heartbreaking for the LSU community, but especially for those who know and love these two students, and those who were expecting to share graduation with them.” 

The small aircraft was owned by Lucius Doucet, who practiced in Baton Rouge and was remembered by colleagues as an “exceptional surgeon” that loved to fly planes, the Advocate reported.

 “Dr. Doucet was not only an exceptional surgeon, but also a compassionate man who touched the lives of countless individuals within our community,” Williamson Cosmetic Center said. 

“His dedication to his patients was unmatched, and his kindness and empathy were felt by all who had the privilege of knowing him.” 

The wreckage from the plane left “a rather large debris field” spanning over half a mile that they would continue searching through Thursday, May 16, Elrod said.

Rough weather might have been a factor in the crash, a National Transportation Safety Board official said Thursday, according to the Advocate. 

“If weather didn’t cause the accident, weather was a factor in the accident,” said NTSB aviation accident investigator Aaron McCarter at a news conference. 

Emergency responders received a 911 call from a resident who said they saw an explosion and debris — and said there might have been a plane crash, around 12:05 p.m. on Wednesday, May 15. 

“It was quickly evident that this would be a search-and-recovery operation, not a search-and-rescue operation,” Elrod said. 

Audio from Air Traffic Control discussed the plane starting to descend from 9,000 feet — and revealed there were options for it to land 16 miles north, according to News Channel 5. 

Air Traffic Control continued trying to reach the plane, but it wasn’t clear from the audio how the pilot responded. 

“It sounds like contact lost,” the tower said. 

The Williamson County Sheriff’s Office, Franklin Fire, Williamson County EMA and Williamson Health EMS responded to the crash.

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