A Lafayette couple and a Natchitoches couple have been identified as those who died Sunday when their plane crashed in Texas.
The Texas Department of Public Safety on Monday confirmed Kenneth Hix, 59, and his wife, Missy Lynn Hix, 59, both of Lafayette; and Phillip Ackel, 59, and his wife, Pauline Ackel, 58, of Natchitoches, were on the plane when it went down. There were no survivors, according to DPS spokesperson Sgt. Erik Burse.
Kenneth Hix is listed as the owner of KMAC Bravo, the Lafayette company to which the single-engine Piper PA-46 Malibu is registered.
The plane crashed about 10:50 a.m. Sunday near Hilltop Lakes Airport in Hilltop Lakes, Texas, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
The plane was flying out of Austin and returning to Louisiana, according to DPS.
A witness told KBTX-TV the plane was flying extremely low to the ground and once the pilot started pulling up the motor stopped turning.
“He banked left almost overcorrected and then banked right again and then he banked left one last time and when he did that second bank to the left he pretty much nose-dived straight vertical into the ground,” said Justin DeLeon, a Hilltop Lakes resident.
According to the flight track, the plane made it 18,000 feet altitude before it descended less than an hour into the flight.
Kenneth Hix, who studied law and practiced as an attorney, most recently worked as the CEO of IntegriCert, an oil and gas supplier in New Iberia, according to his LinkedIn page. He also served as president of Schilling Distributing Company from 2006 until 2011.
Kenneth Hix also served nine years on the board of directors for Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center, holding the positions of secretary, vice chair and chairman of the board. He also was a member of the hospital's finance, strategy, governance and audit leadership committees.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Kenny and Missy Hix," said Bryan Lee, president of Lourdes, in a statement. "Kenny Hix was a true gentleman and friend. He and his wife will be remembered for their kindness, generous spirit and dedication to the Acadiana community. Their presence will be genuinely missed in our health care ministry. We hold his family close in our hearts and prayers.”
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette also issued a statement Monday in memory of the Hixes.
"The Louisiana Department of Athletics mourns the tragic passing of Kenny and Missy Hix, avid Ragin' Cajuns fans and supporters of many years," the university's statement said. "Kenny and Missy were so generous in their support of multiple Louisiana sport programs. Our hearts go out to the Hix family and their friends during this time."
Tributes poured in for the victims Monday on social media.
"Woke up this morning to the sad news that my buddy, Kenneth Hix and his wife, Missy, died in a plane crash near Waco, TX yesterday morning," wrote Mitchell R. Landry, a Lafayette lawyer, in a Monday morning Facebook post. "Tragic loss for the Lafayette community. Such a great man who was so generous with his time and talent.
"God bless and Godspeed, Kenny and Missy. You will be missed."
Pauline Ackel worked as a surgical intensive care unit nurse at Rapides Regional Medical Center in Alexandria, according to a social media post from her coworker. She also served as a nurse for the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts, according to a Facebook post by the school's alumni association.
Kimberly Lowery Wagner called Pauline Ackel the team's "work momma" in a public Facebook post.
"She always put our patients first," Wagner wrote. "She taught me so much as a SICU nurse and I'm honored to have called her my friend."