UPDATE: Officials release new information on deadly plane crash, single survivor’s condition

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Dec. 30, 2019 3 p.m. update: The National Transportation Safety Board is searching for witnesses of the crash. This includes audio evidence and residential/business surveillance footage.

Witnesses can contact witness@ntsb.gov. The NTSB held a 2:30 p.m. press briefing, which can be watched below:

12:30 p.m. update: Dr. Joey Barrios, medical director of the Our Lady of Lourdes Burn Unit, held a press conference at 12:30 p.m. today on the condition of Wade Berzas, the surviving victim on Saturday’s plane crash.

News 10’s Alece Courville was live from today’s press conference:

Barrios said Berzas arrived at the emergency room Saturday morning conscious, but with burns on 75 percent of his body. His shoulder was also dislocated in the crash.

Berzas underwent surgery Monday morning.

He remains intubated and sedated in ICU, Barrious said.

Berzas’ family has released the following statesmen, which which was provided by The Daily Advertiser:

The outpouring of compassion and encouraging words for Wade are deeply felt by our whole family. We are truly grateful to be held so strongly in prayer by this community.

We thank you for the special gift of prayers and rosaries dedicated to Wade’s healing. Our hearts ache for our friends and families affected by this tragic event.

Please offer us privacy in the days ahead as we give Wade our focused energy and loving support.

ORIGINAL: The lack of a distress call and flight data recorder coupled with mangled and charred wreckage will make finding the cause of a fiery airplane crash in Louisiana extremely challenging, federal officials said Sunday.

National Transportation Safety Board Vice Chairman Bruce Landsberg said at a press conference that it could take 12 to 18 months to figure out why the two-engine Piper Cheyenne fell from the sky about a minute after taking off from the Lafayette Regional Airport on Saturday.

The plane crashed near a post office and caught fire in seconds, leaving the ground littered with burning wreckage. Five of the six people on board were killed. The plane was en route to the Peach Bowl playoff game in Atlanta between LSU and Oklahoma. Among those killed was sports broadcaster Carley McCord, the daughter-in-law of LSU coach Steven Ensminger.

“We’ll be looking very carefully at the pilot’s qualifications, the training that they had, medical certification and also the history on the aircraft and its maintenance records,” Landsberg said. “We have two videos that have been turned into us, and we will be analyzing those.”

Landsberg said that he walked to the crash site on Sunday morning and found debris scattered about a quarter of a mile.

It was a “very sobering situation,” he said.

Investigators said much of the aircraft was crushed and consumed by fire after it crashed. NTSB officials said they know of no distress calls made by the pilot or of the existence of a flight data recorder.

“The avionics equipment on board the aircraft was pretty badly damaged,” Landsberg said. “There is no flight data recorder that we know of at this time. We’ll obviously be looking at that, but at this point there’s not a lot to go on.”

The airplane climbed to 900 feet, then descended to 700 feet — a dangerously low altitude in the area, Landsberg said.

The plane went down in a part of the city with a scattering of banks, fast food chains and other businesses. Three people on the ground were also hurt.

Local authorities identified the sole survivor from the plane as a 37-year-old man. He was hospitalized but his condition was not immediately known.

Lafayette is the fourth-largest city in Louisiana with a population of about 130,000, according to the 2018 census. It is located about 135 miles west of New Orleans.

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board are asking witnesses to send statements and videos to witness@ntsb.gov following Saturday’s fatal plane crash in Lafayette.

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