McCOMB, MS (KTRE) - A Lufkin doctor, his wife and sister-in-law were killed in a plane crash outside of McComb, Miss. early Sunday morning.
The local coroner identified the deceased as Dr. Taylor Pickett, 52, and Laura Pickett, 22, and Jacqueline Ham.
According to Yana Ogletree, a spokeswoman for Lufkin's Memorial Hospital, Pickett was a thoracic surgeon on staff.
Reports say the group went to New Orleans Saturday night to watch a friend, who's a musician, perform. They were on their way back to McComb when the plane went down.
Jacquelyn lives just outside McComb. The plane crashed about 4 miles from the McComb-Pike County airport.
The Picketts leave behind four children together.
Pickett was the subject of a couple KTRE stories. In 2009, he helped introduce robotic surgery to Lufkin. Pickett spoke about the surgery at a Women's Power Luncheon in Feb. 2010.
Aerial footage of the wreckage shows the Picketts' private plane after it went down just a few miles from the McComb airport runway.
"It was certainly one of those tragic events that you just, a kind of phone call you hope you never get," said Memorial CEO Bryant Krenek.
That Sunday afternoon call to Krenek brought news that was hard to believe.
"Having known Dr. Pickett for a number of years, I developed a pretty good friendship with him and his family," Krenek said.
Reports say they were headed back to McComb from New Orleans. Krenek says Pickett was a great pilot and had flown with him before.
"All of the conditions were there for that sort of thing not to have happened," Krenek said.
Pickett's colleagues and the staff at Memorial are still in shock, trying to come to terms with what really happened Sunday morning.
Many questions remain about why the plane crashed, with few answers.
However, what they do know is how much Pickett will be missed. Krenek remembers the first time he asked Pickett to help on a surgey.
"Kind of came in bigger than life, landing out at the airport with the white lab coat and the stethoscope draped around his neck," Krenek said. "He got out of his plane."
While the hospital grieves the loss, they also want to embrace the surgeon's accomplishments.
"I think that's the most important part of this process is celebrating their life and what they contributed and all the good things they did," Krenek said.
Like saving many lives as surgeon.
According to WLBT, officials say the aircraft is a 1970s model Cessna 310R Twin Engine Propeller. The private plane left New Orleans at 4:07 a.m. and was en route to McComb. It crashed roughly four miles before reaching the McComb-Pike County Airport.