SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — For the second time in six weeks, an alum of Northwestern State University in Natchitoches has died in a plane crash in Louisiana.
That’s the word from authorities after the identification of the 3 people killed in a crash Thursday in Jackson Parish.
And it comes as investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration are on the site of the crash at a logging company just north of Chatham.
That plane was headed back home to Shreveport from Jackson, Miss., a path that took it almost directly down interstate 20.
But the plane reportedly lost altitude multiple times from 6,000 to 4,000 feet and leveled off.
Then it lowered to 3,000 feet and leveled off. It eventually veered off course and went down far south of I-20.
The Jackson Parish Sheriff’s Office said the Monroe airport tower lost contact with the plane around 2:11 p.m.
The plane’s behavior in the air, coupled with the condition of the engine and the Cessna’s propeller and other potential clues could prove critical in determining the cause of the crash.
On Friday morning, the Sheriff’s Office identified the three victims as Minden resident William Gilliam and Christopher Mudd and Wade Williams, both of Shreveport.
Williams formerly played as a defensive lineman for the Northwestern State University Demons football team.
After word of his death reached the Natchitoches campus, a memorial graphic was posted on the university’s Facebook page.
KSLA News 12 caught up with the NSU Demons head football coach Brad Laird on Friday afternoon.
He was Williams’ defensive coach during his playing days.
Laird said Williams’ contributions on the field were just part of what he brought to NSU as a team captain, all-conference and even an NSU male athlete of the year.
“You don’t get that by just being a great athlete. You get that by being a great student and great all around person," Laird explained.
“And that’s the thing that Wade was. Very loving, very caring and just, you know, memories that we all have as coaches.”
During the recruiting process, Laird said, that’s exactly what he heard about Williams from his high school in Groveton, a small Texas city near Lufkin.
“I go back to what his coaches talked about at Groveton. ‘You know, yeah, you’re going to like the football player you’re getting. But you’re going to like what you’re getting off the field.’ And, man, there wasn’t a truer statement.”
Laird elaborated more about Williams leadership.
"You know, what you saw from him, his leadership off the field, bringing people to Fellowship of Christian Athletes. You know, that was the leader who he was."
Williams is the second Northwestern State graduate in 40 days to have died in a plane crash.
Carley McCord is one of five people who died Dec. 28 when their plane went down in Lafayette.
The flight was headed to the Peach Bowl in Atlanta.
McCord was covering the LSU Tigers as a sports reporter.
Her husband, Steven Ensminger, Jr., is the son of LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger