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Father And Sons Killed In Plane Crash, In An Effort To Attend Son's Graduation

May 9, 2015 - On Friday morning a Piper Cherokee Lance single engine aircraft had departed Dekalb-Peachtree Airport (KPDK) Atlanta, Georgia for University-Oxford Airport, Oxford, Mississippi with four onboard, within moments of take off the pilot 53-year-old Grady “Greg” Byrd shouted into the radio, “We’re going down". The plane crashed on Atlanta's I-285 highway, killing all onboard. 

The PA-32R-300 Cherokee Lance, N5802V, had just made it over a tracker trailer when it crashed and burst into flames. The other passengers onboard were identified as his two sons and a son's fiancé. I-285 was shut down for several hours, the police said it was a miracle no one on the ground was killed. 

Officials reported the retired North Carolina sheriff’s deputy had departed Dekalb-Peachtree Airport with his 26 year old son, Phillip and flew to Atlanta to pick up his other son, 27 year old son Christopher and Christopher’s fiancé Jackelyn Kulzer. 


The family was planning to fly up to Ole, Mississippi to attend the youngest son Robert’s college graduation at the University of Mississippi on Saturday. Brandi Hephner LaBanc, vice chancellor for student affairs said “Our initial response was to support the student. We went to him and met with him. We wanted to make sure he had the support he needed from the university.” 

“The circumstances of the accident, coming on the eve of Commencement, make it even more heartrending. We offer our prayers for Robert Byrd, his extended family and their friends and will do everything we can to offer support and comfort during this time.” 

On Saturday, although Robert was not present at the School of Business Administration commencement ceremony, Dean Ken Cyree called for a moment of silence when Robert's name was called for receiving a degree in finance.

“We’re very saddened by his loss. It’s such a tragedy at such a happy time in his life.” NTSB investigator, Eric Alleyne said “At this time we don’t know the cause of the accident'. Alleyne further stated the NTSB would reconstruct the plane to help determine the cause of the crash.  


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