The family of a Baton Rouge man, who died in an unfortunate plane crash in New Orleans approximately 1,000 yards from the runway, has hailed him a hero for pushing his girlfriend out of the plane before it plunged into a lake.
As the WDSU News reports, Brianna Davis took her boyfriend Reginald Hilliard Jr. an aerial tour over New Orleans as a birthday gift. Hilliard, a 25-year-old rapper and father of three, was afraid of flying but decided to go on the flight anyway.
However, their small Cessna 172 aircraft soon hit a rainstorm. The couple and the pilot were the only ones aboard. Just moments before they crashed into Lake Pontchartrain, Hilliard unbuckled Davis and pushed her out of the plane.
A private yacht picked her up and took her to a hospital — she is the sole survivor of the accident.
“Brianna says Reggie helped push her out, and that's what saved her life,” his cousin Yolanda White told local news station. “He's the hero. He was a hero living. You know, he died that way. This was his first plane flight ever. First time he flew on a plane. And it was a surprise from his girlfriend Brianna.”
On Tuesday, the authorities pulled the wreckage out of the water and had to cut the aircraft to retrieve the bodies, one of which was Hilliard’s.
“They said that he was in the plane. I still didn't believe it,” lamented his father. “Whether [Hilliard] knew you or not, he wouldn’t leave you behind and that is the reason why I lost my son. Because he refused to leave anybody behind.”
The pilot, not yet been identified, was still buckled onto his seat. The officials said he was very experienced, but did not call for help.
The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the crash.