Guy Seghers, a 56-year-old recreational pilot from New Orleans, had planned on driving out to a small airfield in St. Charles Parish over the weekend to meet someone who was interested in buying an airplane from him.
But the meeting fell through, according to his sister, Simone Seghers Barker, so Seghers decided to spend Saturday afternoon in the air, as he often did.
It was still not clear Monday exactly what went wrong, but the routine flight proved deadly when Seghers crashed in a wooded area near the airfield, perhaps not long after takeoff.
“It was supposed to be a little normal thing,” said Barker, who survives Seghers along with his wife, a daughter in her early teens and three siblings. “Unfortunately, he died doing the thing that he loved.”
Pilots at the airfield in Ama grew worried when Seghers didn’t return from his flight on schedule.
His dog, a Yorkie named Gigi, had been left behind in the hangar, Barker said.
Seghers was reported missing to the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office about 7 p.m. Saturday.
St. Charles Sheriff Greg Champagne said a search for Seghers got underway immediately. It involved personnel from various agencies — including a helicopter from the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office — and civilians, some of whom flew over the area in private planes.
The air search was grounded by stormy weather Sunday morning, but searchers on foot and in all-terrain vehicles finally spotted the wreckage of Seghers’ plane in a wooded area south of the private, turf airfield, which is under the control of the St. Charles Aviation Association and is about 3 miles southwest of Louis Armstrong International Airport in Kenner.
The National Transportation Safety Board did not respond Monday to a request for comment about any preliminary findings investigators may have made.
Aviation Association President John Lawrence said his group’s best guess was that Seghers lost control of his plane as he took off and then crashed in the trees near the airfield.
Lawrence said Seghers, a veteran dues-paying member of the association, was only the second pilot flying out of the airfield to die in a crash since it opened in 1961, as far as he was aware.
“Any time you lose a member for any reason is sad,” Lawrence said, “but especially in this kind of case.”
Barker said Seghers earned his living renting out various properties he owned in the New Orleans area. He had flown planes recreationally for some time, she said, and it was his main hobby outside of spending time with his wife, Mayumi, and their daughter, Josie.
Barker said her brother had planned on eating out with the family on Sunday.
“To hear that he had gone missing ... was just a tremendous jolt,” Barker said. “That was so not typical of him.”