LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — Family and friends wearing purple and gold said goodbye Thursday to a Louisiana woman and her son who were on their way to see the Peach Bowl when they died in a plane crash.
Gretchen Vincent, 51, and her son, Michael Walker Vincent, 15 were on a plane that crashed shortly after takeoff Saturday in Lafayette, killing five of the six people on board.
Gretchen Vincent was possibly the world’s greatest LSU Tigers fan, said Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, who described her as one of his best friends during services held at Our Savior’s Church in Lafayette, Louisiana, The Advocate reported.
Landry said Vincent’s son was an overachiever who touched people and wanted to help others. “He made friends with everyone,” Landry said.
“Walker never knew a time without his mother,” Landry said. Just as he came into the world, he left the world hand-in-hand with her “as they touched the face of God.”
The Vincent family had asked those attending the service to dress in the school’s purple and gold in honor of the family’s love for LSU football and LSU, her alma mater. Her son shared her love of all things purple and gold, according to his obituary. The teenager was an excellent student and planned to major in pre-dentistry at LSU as part of his plans to become an orthodontist. He also had dreamed of becoming a pilot and enjoyed going hunting and fishing in Louisiana, the obituary said. He died one day before his 16th birthday.
They died “doing what they loved the most, traveling to see the LSU Tigers play,” their obituaries said.
Kelly Orgeron, wife of LSU head coach Ed Orgeron, also spoke at the service on behalf of the school and team the mother and son loved, the newspaper reported. After hearing all the wonderful things about them, Orgeron said, “I can’t wait to one day meet Gretchen and Walker in heaven.”
Orgeron said she was honored to represent LSU on such a special and somber day for family and friends who were mourning. “We will be in constant prayer that God engulfs you in peace as only he can do,” she said.
As for Walker and Gretchen, she said, “I know they’ll be screaming on Jan. 13 when we take that national championship trophy home.”
Most of the five people on the plane who died had connections to a Lafayette-based technology firm, Global Data Systems. Gretchen D. Vincent’s husband, Chris Vincent, is the president of Global Data Systems. Ian E. Biggs, 51, was a pilot and aircraft manager for GDS. Robert Vaughn Crisp II, 59 was vice president of business development and field services for the firm. The sole surviving passenger, Stephen Wade Berzas, 37, also worked for the company as its vice president of sales and marketing. Carley McCord, 30, was also a passenger on the plane and died in the crash. She was a well-known sports reporter and the daughter-in-law of the LSU offensive coordinator, Steve Ensminger.
Funeral services for the other victims are also upcoming. A Catholic funeral Mass will be held for Crisp on Friday in Mamou. A memorial service will be held for Biggs on Saturday in Lafayette. McCord’s funeral will be Saturday in Baton Rouge.
Berzas remains hospitalized in critical condition at Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center in Lafayette. Another person, Danielle Britt, is hospitalized at University Medical Center in New Orleans after suffering serious burns when her vehicle flipped and caught on fire as the plane crashed to the ground.