Prominent LSU Graduates and Father perish in Tennessee plane tragedy

 May 17, 2024

Devastating Midair Disintegration Claims Three Lives

A catastrophic event last Wednesday marked the loss of Dr. Lucius J. Doucet III and his two children, whom tragedy struck mere days before their graduation from Louisiana State University. Their small aircraft disintegrated over Tennessee in a horrifying accident.

This incident occurred as the family was en route from Louisiana to Kentucky.

The Beechcraft V35, piloted by Dr. Doucet, encountered catastrophic failure mid-flight south of Nashville. Eyewitnesses and investigators recounted that the aircraft literally broke apart in the skies, scattering debris over an extensive area.

Immediate Aftermath and Emergency Response

Authorities were alerted to the disaster shortly after midday. A 911 call reported a loud explosion and subsequent debris, which foreboded the terrible realization that the aircraft had suffered a major in-flight breakup. Emergency services swiftly mobilized to the scene.

Williamson County Sheriff Mark Elrod confirmed the severity of the situation. "It was quickly evident that this would be a search-and-recovery operation, not a search-and-rescue," he remarked, highlighting the grim reality faced by the responders.

The crash site presented a haunting vista, with pieces of the aircraft strewn across a swath exceeding half a mile. This magnitude of dispersion underscored the violent nature of the aircraft’s disintegration.

Sorrow Expressed by LSU and Professional Community

The loss deeply resonated within the LSU community, where both of Doucet’s children, Giselle and Jean-Luc, were esteemed students. "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," stated LSU in a heartfelt release.

Giselle was about to conclude her studies in veterinary medicine, while Jean-Luc was set to graduate from the engineering faculty. Their impending commencement ceremonies were poised to be a moment of celebration that tragically turned into mourning.

The professional circle of Dr. Doucet, a celebrated plastic surgeon, also felt a profound loss. Williamson Cosmetic Center, where he made significant contributions, shared, "Dr. Doucet was not only an exceptional surgeon but also a compassionate man who touched the lives of countless individuals within our community."

Investigation and Speculations Around the Crash

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), together with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), took charge of the investigation. The NTSB aviation accident investigator, Aaron McCarter discussed potential contributing factors, noting, "If weather didn’t cause the accident, weather was a factor in the accident."

As the investigation unfolds, authorities urged local residents to avoid the crash vicinity and to report any findings of debris, which could be crucial in piecing together the sequence of events that led to the tragic accident.

The community continues to rally in support, offering condolences and aid during this trying time, echoing the sentiment of loss and devastation felt across multiple spectrums, from the academic halls of LSU to professional networks and beyond.

Ripples of Tragedy Through the Community and Beyond

As details continue to emerge, the depth of the tragedy only becomes more poignant. The Doucet family was en route to a celebratory milestone that tragically ended in despair. The incident not only claimed lives but also fragmented the dreams and aspirations of a family and community.

Local authorities, alongside national agencies, strive to uncover the reasons behind the midair breakup, with the hope that such a calamity can be prevented in the future. Meanwhile, the LSU community prepares for a graduation that will be marked by memory and mourning.

In the days to come, flags at LSU will fly at half-mast, a somber reminder of the bright young minds lost, and the indelible mark they left behind. The bonds of the community are expected to be a source of solace and support as they navigate through this profound loss.

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