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‘My heart breaks for our student’: 4 people killed after small plane crashed into Mississippi home

  • May 06, 2021

small plane crashed into a Mississippi home, killing one of the home’s four occupants and three Texas residents who were flying to a university graduation ceremony, authorities said Wednesday.

Gerry Standley, 55, was a resident of the home where the plane crashed in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

Also killed were the pilot, 67-year-old Louis Provenza, 23-year-old Anna Calhoun and 2-year-old Harper Provenza, according to Forrest County Coroner Butch Benedict.

Hattiesburg is about 90 miles southeast of Jackson, Mississippi.

University of Southern Mississippi officials said the three on the plane were coming to Hattiesburg to attend a commencement ceremony. 

Calhoun was a junior studying biology at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls said public relations director Julie Gaynor.

“My heart breaks for our student and her family, and for our community members and their family,” USM President Rodney Bennett said in a statement. “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.”

Standley worked full-time for a paving company and was assistant pastor at his church, according to a webpage to raise money for funeral expenses and replacement of belongings lost to the fire.

His wife, Melinda, division manager for the police department’s 911 center, their daughter Arrianna and grandson Eli all got out of the home with minor injuries, it said. The couple had celebrated their 22nd anniversary last month.

Provenza was a neurosurgeon at United Regional Physician Group and a graduate of Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans.

“We are so very saddened about the loss of Dr. Louis Provenza. He has touched the lives of so many and will be greatly missed,” the medical group said.

The plane, a Mitsubishi M-2B-60, crashed into a home late Tuesday, Hattiesburg Police Department officials reported Wednesday. 

Emergency responders were called to the scene around 11:20 p.m., Hattiesburg police spokesman Ryan Moore said in an email.

Police ask anyone who finds debris or wreckage that may be connected to the crash to contact the Hattiesburg Police Department, and to avoid moving or touching the debris.

Police initially said two people had died, according to an Associated Press report. The death toll was later updated to four.

The Federal Aviation Administration was called to investigate the cause of the crash. National Transportation Safety Board was contacted to handle the investigation. 

Follow Lici Beveridge on Twitter: @licibev.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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