Reporter Carley McCord, 30, tragically passed away on Saturday Dec. 28, 2019 during a plane crash in Lafayette, Louisiana.
The two-engine Piper Cheyenne plane crashed into a post office parking lot one mile west of Lafayette Regional Airport around 9:22 a.m, according to The Washington Post.
The flight was headed to Atlanta for LSU’s matchup vs. Oklahoma in the semifinals of the College Football Playoff.
McCord most recently served as a digital media reporter for the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and an in-game host for the New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans. McCord additionally was a freelance sports reporter for ESPN3, WDSU New Orleans as well as Cox Sports Television.
Godspeed Carley. Always in our hearts. pic.twitter.com/ta1M1FrK2V
— CST (@CoxSportsTV) December 28, 2019
Four other people also lost their lives: Gretchen D. Vincent (51), Michael “Walker” Vincent (15), Ian E. Biggs (51), and Robert Vaughn Crisp II (59).
Prayers to all the families. https://t.co/LpnVmSH4mx
— CST (@CoxSportsTV) December 28, 2019
Stephen Wade Berzas (37) was the lone survivor of the crash, but remains in critical condition, according to The Advocate.
McCord was the wife of Steven Ensminger Jr. and daughter-in-law of LSU offensive coordinator Steven Ensminger.
“These words are the hardest words I’ve ever had to speak. She will always be part of my life,” Ensminger Jr. said to Sports Illustrated reporter Ross Dellenger. “I’m torn and struggling but I knew she would tell me to be strong. I love her. I miss her so much it hurts. I wish she was here with me.”
LSU coach Ed Orgeron alerted Ensminger of the news prior to the game. With a heavy heart, Ensminger fulfilled his coaching duties and received the game ball afterwards.
“Our thoughts and prayers out to him,” Orgeron said to ESPN’s Holly Rowe. “Steve and his wife, his family are so distraught.”
McCord graduated from Northwestern State in 2011 and earned a degree in broadcast journalism from LSU in 2013.
McCord’s first job was covering the Cleveland Browns. She returned to her hometown of Baton Rouge, Louisiana two years later as a radio host for 100.7 The Tiger and 104.5 ESPN Baton Rouge.
Born on July 24, 1989, McCord graduated from St. Michael in 2007 and was the runner up for Miss Louisiana in 2011 and 2012. She married Steven Ensminger Jr. on January 26, 2018.
Aside from her reporting duties, the selfless McCord was a travel agent and also taught online English classes to children in China at 4 a.m. every morning, according to Dellenger.
The thoughtful McCord was extremely well-respected by her media peers for going above and beyond on every assignment.
Carley McCord leaves a lasting legacy of professionalism, grace, and humility that will never be forgotten by the countless lives she touched
McCord’s colleagues fondly remember her as a consummate reporter and one of the most sincere people in the sports industry:
CST Executive Producer Jeff Brenner
“Words don’t express the heartfelt loss we all feel at CST with the passing of Carley McCord. Carley had an infectious personality, and she projected it every time she took to the sidelines. She loved her work and people, whether for CST, the Saints and Pelicans or WDSU, she was always on when she hit the air. You know how much she was loved, by the outpouring of support all the way from the Pensacola Blue Wahoos in Florida to the Southland Conference in Texas and all parts in between. Our prayers go out to her husband Steve Ensminger, Jr, who would often travel with her to CST events, and the rest of the McCord and Ensminger family during this time of grief.
When Carley decided she wanted to become a sideline reporter during her days in radio, I met with her and as you can say, the rest was history. She jumped in with all of her might. Even though young herself, Carley wanted everyone to have the chance that she had, and would speak to any and all who wanted to get into the business of television. That’s how giving she was. I would often produce her games in Pensacola and I know the next time I step into the production truck, it won’t feel the same without her roaming the sidelines.”
View this post on Instagram
“Success isn’t just about what you accomplish in your life. It’s about what you INSPIRE others to do.” Several months ago, I was honored to be a speaker at a conference for aspiring broadcasters. I was so lucky to meet so many incredible students with so much talent and one of them being Kaylee. She introduced herself to me and made herself memorable. She stood out to me and I was so excited to hear from her a few months later. She reached out asking for advice, tips and constructive criticism. She works hard and has a specific goal in mind. She came to shadow me yesterday on CST, and I couldn’t be more proud to see such a determined young lady in this field. It made me feel so humble and blessed to know that I was one of the many reasons that inspired someone to want to do this job. Find your passion. I promise it is the best feeling in the world. ❤️ #womeninsports @coxsportstelevision
CST Producer John Sulser
“Carley McCord was an exceptional sports journalist and the type of person everyone wanted to be around. Her magnetic personality was evident on camera and even more evident off it when she was just being herself. She was an excellent reporter who had a knack for knowing how to get the most out of someone in an interview, and her passion for sports was apparent – whether in a report from the sidelines or just talking with her off the field.
In addition to being an outstanding reporter, Carley was an even better person. Her love of life and her family shone through in every interaction you had with her. People were drawn to her because of her affable personality and the warmth and joy she exuded. It is hard to think of a more generous and caring person I have met in this business. She will be sorely missed. My deepest condolences to her husband, family, and friends.”
CST play-by-play announcer/Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame member Lyn Rollins
“Carley was one of those rare people who combined professional zeal with genuine kindness and a refreshing eagerness about life in and apart from broadcasting. She steadfastly pursued improvement, and it was her polite insistence that I critique her work that started a wonderfully honest friendship. In a profession filled with insecurity and sometimes-catty competition, she always accommodated requests for advice and assistance from younger broadcasters. In short, Carley was joyful, and the heavy sorrow about her death is immense.”
Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Foundation president/CEO, CST baseball analyst Ronnie Rantz
“Carley was a dear friend and colleague who always lit up any room with her presence either by her infectious smile or goofy sense of humor. My heart breaks for her husband Steve and the entire McCord and Ensminger families.
Carley was a friend to the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame largely due to her love for her alma mater Northwestern St. and the city of Natchitoches. Carley had volunteered her time on numerous occasions over the past three years to help with hosting and broadcasting duties involving the LSHOF and will be irreplaceable.”
Louisiana Radio Network director Jeff Palermo
Carley will be sorely missed. Her postgame interviews with coaches and players way better than what you see on national broadcasts. Stand-ups in the middle of a student section flawless. Always found out why a player was called by a certain nickname. She was a great friend too. pic.twitter.com/5JPB0nehC5
— Jeff Palermo (@jeffpalermoLRN) December 28, 2019
New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans joint statement
Statement from the New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans pic.twitter.com/1WhBvJmjI5
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) December 28, 2019
“Not only was Carley an excellent representative of the Saints and Pelicans organizations, she was also a highly-respected member of the media covering sports, including the Saints and Pelicans with utmost professionalism for WDSU and CST. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Carley’s family with this tragic loss.”
New Orleans Saints/New Orleans Pelicans owner Gayle Benson (courtesy of The Advocate)
“We are saddened to hear about the sudden loss of Carley McCord. She was always full of life and made everyone around her smile. Her energy was contagious and she will be missed by both our Saints and Pelicans family.”
Pensacola Blue Wahoos
— Southland Conference (@SouthlandSports) December 28, 2019
“All of us in the Southland Conference are devastated by the news of Carley McCord’s tragic passing. She was an integral part of our television efforts in recent years, and our broadcasts were much better because of her preparation, enthusiasm and love for her work. Our thoughts and prayers are with the McCord and Ensminger families, her friends and colleagues.”
New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Sean Payton on when he heard the news of the death of Carley McCord pic.twitter.com/T9NVW6Yf1S
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) December 29, 2019
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to the Carley McCord Memorial Scholarship, created by the Northwestern State University Foundation and Alumni Association.