2 reported dead in Hammond plane crash
HAMMOND - It will likely be Thursday afternoon before federal investigators release additional information about a plane crash that killed two people in Hammond.
The crash happened around 4 p.m. Wednesday as the Cessna 421 turbo-prop was taking off, experienced trouble and was attempting to return to the airport in Tangipahoa Parish. Investigators will focus their attention on why the plane had problems that forced it to fall from the sky.
City officials were reluctant to release information at a Wednesday evening news conference and referred specific questions about the incident to federal investigators from the FAA and NTSB. However, the fire chief in Hammond said when the plane crashed and burst into flames, it also sparked a grass fire.
"Engine fuel spread the grass fire," he said.
Federal authorities said an initial team was dispatched from Baton Rouge and an expansive team will be at the crash site Thursday. Cessna, the airplane developer, and officials with the engine manufacturer will also be on site.
The plane had stopped in Hammond for about an hour before taking off, possibly to Atlanta, a source told WBRZ News 2.
Frantic radio communications between the pilot and the tower at the Hammond airport convey just how immediate the situation was for the people on the plane. Within seconds of asking to land and exclaiming "mayday," the audio cuts out.
"We have a station at the airport, and they responded right away and confirmed we had a plane engulfed in fire," the chief said about the quick response to fight the raging inferno.
Witnesses said they saw the plane fall from the sky.
"I was on my way home and I saw a big ball of fire and smoke. Then, there were fire departments .. Coming from behind me," Renetta Leverette said in a hasty interview soon after the crash. Leverette said she saw smoke billowing for a while as fire crews worked to contain the fire.
The plane was registered to a Lafayette-based company.
City officials said there will likely be a news conference Thursday afternoon to update the situation. Watch Thursday editions of WBRZ News 2 for more.
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