TV reporter shooting story in stunt plane dies in crash

U.S. & World

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A New Orleans TV journalist and the pilot of a small plane are dead after their aircraft went down Friday in a field near a city airport.

WVUE-TV confirms that Nancy Parker, a reporter and anchor at the television station for 23 years, was killed in the crash near Lakefront Airport, which accommodates smaller aircraft.

Authorities didn’t immediately release the victims’ names.

The station said the 53-year-old journalist was shooting a story in a stunt plane when it crashed.

“For more than two decades, Nancy Parker sat opposite John Snell as the FOX 8 co-anchor and gave us the news of the day,” New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said in a statement. “She told it to us straight, but with a combination of professionalism, intelligence, warmth and grace we may never experience again. New Orleans did not just lose a five-time Emmy-winning journalist, or a familiar, comforting face on our TV screens. We lost a loving mother of three, a beautiful human being, and an invaluable member of our community.”

Franklin J.P. Augustus, the pilot of the plane, was also killed.

Cantrell also honored Augustus, saying, “He never forgot the magic he felt as a youth about flying. He spent countless hours introducing flying to area youth through the Young Eagles program and Civil Air Patrol.”

A Federal Aviation Administration statement said the plane was a 1983 Pitts S-2B aircraft that crashed in an empty field about a half-mile south of the airport, which accommodates smaller aircraft, under unknown circumstances. That model aircraft is a biplane.

New Orleans Homeland Security Director Collin Arnold told reporters the plane crashed about 3 p.m., causing a fire.

“It looks like the plane is completely charred,” said Gerald Herbert, an Associated Press photographer who also is a pilot and has a hangar at Lakefront Airport. He went to the site and described charred debris lying near a fence in a grassy field.

Numerous emergency responders were on scene, including the city’s fire and police departments and emergency medical personnel.

Arnold did not release the victims’ identities and could not confirm the type of plane involved, or whether there were reports of engine failure. He said those details would be part of the investigation.

A National Transportation Safety Board representative was expected Saturday to begin an investigation.

Parker is survived by her husband, Glyn Boyd, and three children.

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