NEW ORLEANS — UPDATE: Plane in fatal New Orleans crash had engine problems, witnesses say
Two people were killed in a plane crash in New Orleans East Friday afternoon, according to city officials.
The crash was reported near Jourdan Road and Morrison Road near the Industrial Canal around 3:20 p.m.
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The scene of the crash is just south of the New Orleans Lakefront Airport. New Orleans officials identified the vehicle as a small, two-seater aerobatic plane.
Officials on the scene confirmed the two fatalities.
WVUE FOX 8 announced Friday evening that Nancy Parker, their long-time news anchor and a fixture in New Orleans reporting, was one of the passengers who passed away.
Bennie Tassin was working not too far from the crash site when he saw it all happen.
"When I turned around all you can see was the plane coming nose down and then hit the ground. You heard the boom," Tassin said.
Moments after, he saw some and flames. One of his supervisors tried to run over and help.
"He jumped the wall in an effort to try to save whoever was in the place and there was nothing he could've done cause it was engulfed already," Tassin said.
Knowing that two people died hurts Tassin's heart.
"A recent tragedy in my life. My daughter passing. To see somebody else. My heart just goes out to their family at this time."
On Friday night, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell released a statement confirming both the deaths of both Parker and the pilot, Franklin Augustus.
Cantrell called Parker "an invaluable member of our community" and Augustus an accomplished pilot who "even dress[ed] as a costumed superhero of his own creation: ‘The Drug Fighter,' to deliver a message of hope, and to help combat substance abuse.”
FAA inspectors in Baton Rouge and federal NTSB inspectors from Denver were en route to investigate the crash and determine an official cause of the incident, officials said. The federal inspectors were scheduled to arrive to New Orleans Saturday morning.
A city official called the crash "quite catastrophic" and said a fire engulfed the plane after it hit the ground. First responders attempted to rescue the victims but were inhibited by the fire, the official said.
No other injuries and no damage to the surrounding area were reported.