The husband of sports reporter Carley McCord is mourning the loss of the woman he called "my everything" after she died in a plane crash Saturday while traveling to watch the LSU-Oklahoma college football playoff game.
McCord, 30, was one of five people who died when a private plane leaving Lafayette, Louisiana, crashed less than a mile from the airport on a flight bound for Atlanta, where McCord's father-in-law, Steve Ensminger Sr., 61, was coaching for undefeated Louisiana State University in the Peach Bowl.
Her husband, Steven Ensminger Jr., 30, mourned her loss in a statement to NBC News.
"I can’t come up with words,'' he said. "She was my everything. She loved so fiercely and she was so competitive that it would cause tiffs between us. She loved to joke. She would love to ask me stupid questions on purpose in order to mess with me.
"It’s so hard and it hurts too much. I just want her here with me. That’s all I want. Her life was a story and it needs to be told. I’m blessed to be part of that story. She is and will forever be my world."
The plane lost altitude less than a mile from the airport and crashed in a post office parking lot, according to authorities and eye witnesses.
"The wreckage is in pretty tough shape, between impact damage and fire damage, so there's not a lot to work with," National Transportation Safety Board chairman Bruce Landsberg said on TODAY Monday.
McCord was a sports reporter for NBC New Orleans affiliate WDSU and a Louisiana native who previously worked as a digital media reporter for the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and the in-game host for the New Orleans Pelicans and the New Orleans Saints.
Pilot Ian Biggs, 51, and passengers Robert Vaughn Crisp II, 59, Gretchen Vincent, 51, and her son Michael, known as Walker, 15, were also killed. Walker Vincent would have turned 16 on Sunday.
Survivor Stephen Wade Berzas, 37, suffered extensive burns and is scheduled for surgery on Monday. Five other individuals on the ground were also injured, according to authorities.
Ensminger Sr. coached the LSU offense through tears on Saturday night as Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow threw a record-setting seven touchdown passes in the first half of a 63-28 victory that sent the Tigers to the national title game against defending champion Clemson.
He was told by LSU head coach Ed Orgeron around lunchtime on Saturday that his daughter-in-law had died in the crash.
Ensminger Jr. was so distraught when he heard the news about his wife from his aunt that he had to be hospitalized, according to Sports Illustrated. He had planned to drive McCord to Atlanta but couldn’t get off work at his job as a chemical operator at a nitrogen facility in Louisiana, so she took the private plane instead.
His father called him before the LSU game with a heartfelt message of support.
“The one voice that got on the phone with me that was clear and strong and supportive and confident while I was laying in that bed was my dad right before he walked out for warm-ups,'' Ensminger Jr. told Sports Illustrated. "I could barely speak. I couldn’t hold myself together and he said, ‘Son, you will get through this, it’s what we do. We face the darkest times in our lives and it’s what we do, we get through it.’”
The younger Ensminger also shared the heartbreaking news that McCord tried to reach him twice before she boarded the plane, but he was at work without his phone.
"I don’t have my phone and she sends me a message saying she loved me,” he told Sports Illustrated. “I was in and out of a nightmare, not being able to tell what was real and what wasn’t. I can remember laying in the hospital bed repeating myself saying it wasn’t real and then one of the hardest things I’m dealing with is that I missed her text and I missed her call. It is by far the most pain, angst and terror and just darkest time of my life and I honestly don’t know how long it will last because I still don’t believe it. I don’t want to believe it."