The lone survivor of a December airplane crash in Lafayette has spoken about his experiences during and after the event.
Wade Berzas, speaking to Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center, described his experience during the catastrophic incident that reverberated throughout Acadiana and made national news.
The Dec. 28 crash happened when a twin-engine corporate airplane clipped trees and a power line before crashing near the intersection of Verot School and Feu Follet roads.
The airplane was bound for Atlanta for LSU’s appearance in the Peach Bowl, carrying family and employees of GDS founder Chuck Vincent as well as sports journalist Carley McCord. Gretchen Vincent and Walker Vincent, the wife and son of the GDS president, were killed in the crash, as were GDS Vice President of Business Development and Field Services Robert Vaughn Crisp II and Biggs.
When asked about the incident, Berzas credited his survival to God’s grace and training he had while working in the oilfield.
“We’re in the plane and it goes down, everything starts happening, noises and all this other stuff,” Berzas said during the interview. “As that whole process went on I expected at some point the lights would go off and I would die. That’s what happens in plane crashes, people don’t make it.
“By the grace of God, things got quiet and it stopped. When it stopped it was a moment of ‘I’m alive.’”
Berzas said he had a moment of clarity during the fall where he relied on underwater egress training he had while working in the oilfield years ago.
“I remembered the best thing to do is point your thumb to the exit and where you want to get out,” he said. “It took everything, all the panic I felt at that moment, it kind of slowed it down. The first words out of my mouth were ‘Not today.’”
After unbuckling, Berzas said he saw sunlight in one direction and fire in the other, and started to walk toward the sunlight. As soon as he hit his knees, Berzas said he started to pray the rosary, and after three or four Hail Marys he could see men walking toward him to save him.
“I imagined if ESPN would have put my win probability of surviving during the crash, it would have been at 0 or 1,” Berzas said. “God performed a big, huge miracle and saved me in that moment.”