MORGAN CITY — A helicopter crash into the Belle Isle salt dome 13 miles southwest of here ended the lives of two men who were en route to an alligator conference Thursday morning.
The passenger, Lanny Ledet, was manager of Golden Ranch Plantation in Gheens, owned by Cenac Marine Services LLC, said Cenac attorney C. Berwick Duval II.
A representative at Chet Morrison Contractors in Houma confirmed this morning that the pilot of the helicopter was an employee of their company and was flying the aircraft as part of unofficial business.
The representative, who requested his name not be given, identified the pilot as Jason McKean, 40 years old, of Amite.
“He was a very seasoned pilot,” the representative said. “(He) had a passion for aviation. (He was) just a great guy.”
The company spokesman said McKean was a pilot for Chet Morrison who flew multiple aircraft for the company. He said aviation was a passion of McKean’s.
The spokesman said McKean was off of work on Thursday and Thursday’s flight was not related to any work he was doing for Chet Morrison.
“(He) was a great individual,” the spokesman said. “Obviously (it’s) a tragedy for our organization. He was loved by many people. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
The St. Mary Parish Coroner’s Office has not officially released the name of either man.
While McKean was a pilot for Chet Morrison, the Robinson R-44 helicopter he was flying was registered to Cenac.
“Details of the crash are unknown at this time and the entire Cenac family is in mourning over this tragic loss,” said a statement from company owner Arlen “Benny” Cenac.
The Robinson R-44 helicopter crashed around 9 a.m. Thursday in marshes about 13 miles southwest of Morgan City, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Lynn Lunsford said.
He said FAA and National Transportation Safety Board investigators would go to the wreck site as soon as possible.
The helicopter took off from a Houma airfield at 8:27 a.m. The first calls reporting the crash were received at 9:01 a.m., according to the St. Mary Parish Sheriff's Department.
The Chet Morrison representative said McKean wasn’t a risk taker when flying aircraft.
“He was not flamboyant,” he said. “He took his work seriously.”