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4 killed when plane crashed into Miss. home identified

Published: May. 5, 2021 at 6:16 AM EDT|Updated: May. 5, 2021 at 12:58 PM EDT
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Four people are dead after a small plane crashed into a Hattiesburg home Tuesday evening.

Three people in the plane and a person in the home were killed in the crash.

The National Transportation Safety Board said the plane was headed to Bobby L. Chain Municipal Airport, a little less than two miles from the crash site.

According to Forrest County Coroner Butch Benedict, the victims have been identified as:

  • Gerry Standley, 55, of Hattiesburg
  • Louis Provenza, 67, of Witchita Falls, Texas
  • Harper Provenza, 2, of Witchita Falls, Texas
  • Anna Calhoun, 23, of Witchita Falls, Texas

Standley lived in the home and the other three victims were on board the plane.

According to Federal Aviation Administration public records, Louis Provenza was a licensed pilot.

Our sister station in Wichita Falls, KAUZ, has confirmed 2-year-old Harper Provenza is the daughter of Anna Calhoun.

The University of Southern Mississippi confirmed that family members of a graduating student were involved in the crash.

USM President Rodney D. Bennett issued a statement, sending his condolences to the family and community members:

My heart breaks for our student and her family, and for our community members and their family. The University extends our deepest condolences and our thoughts and prayers to all those who are affected by this tragedy during this time of great loss.

Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker released a statement saying that Standley’s family is part of the city workforce and that Standley worked at Warren Paving. Barker said the other grieving family includes a Southern Miss student.

The statement reads in part, “Both families live miles apart from each other, but today — they will both be walking the same road as they grieve the loss of their loved ones. To the families of all involved: while we cannot bear the full impact of this tragedy for you, know that we feel the loss deeply with you.”

Standley’s church held a private prayer service for the family Wednesday night.

“We’re devastated,” said Thereta White, the aunt of Melinda Standley, who is the wife of Gerry Standley. “You know, when unexpected accidents happen, it devastates you. And you really don’t know which way to turn other than to God.”

A GoFundMe account benefiting the Standley family has already surpassed more than $5,000 in donations.

Residents living around Annie Christie Drive described what they heard when the airplane crashed into the Standley home.

Delton Smith was inside his home on Collins Street when he heard an explosion, followed by the arrival of emergency vehicles.

“It just hit one house out of all the houses down here, it hit just one,” Smith said. “And they say it looks like a stick of dynamite was thrown on it. I’m just praying for the family, that’s all you can do right now.”

One block away on Evans Street, Suzanne Burkhalter and her family were watching TV when they hear the airplane coming down.

“It came over our house, I mean it came straight over and nosedived into that other house,” said Burkhalter.

“It just made a thump, and then dead silence after that, and then screams everywhere. It felt like it lasted forever, but it only lasted maybe 10 to 15 seconds and that was it,” she added.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board have been contacted to investigate the crash. FAA investigators were coming through the wreckage Wednesday. NTSB officials are expected to arrive Thursday morning.

Annie Christie Drive is closed from Evans Street to Collins Street. Edwards Street is now open to traffic.

Moore said if you encounter what you believe to be wreckage or debris from the plane, do not touch it or remove it. You should contact the Hattiesburg Police Department at 601-467-7556.

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