McCOMB — The pilot of a private airplane that crashed and killed three people Sunday is being remembered as a respected surgeon and experienced pilot who used his plane to travel between homes in Mississippi and Texas and for flying to work in several cities.
Authorities said Dr. Taylor Pickett, 52, was traveling with his wife and her sister from New Orleans to McComb, Miss., about a 110-mile flight, when the plane went down a few miles from the McComb airport Sunday about 4:30 a.m. The cause of the crash is under investigation.
The crash killed Pickett, his 22-year-old wife, Laura Pickett of Summit, Miss.; and her sister, 29-year-old Jacquelyn Ham of Meadville, Miss., according to Percy Pittman, a coroner in Pike County, Miss.
The Cessna 310R, a dual-engine propeller aircraft, crashed into trees near the McComb-Pike County Airport in a moderately populated area on the western edge of the city. There were no reports of injuries on the ground.
Dr. Pickett was a cardiologist and thoracic surgeon who worked for McComb’s Mississippi Cardiovascular Institute before going to work in Texas.
Yana Ogletree, a spokeswoman for Memorial Health System of East Texas, said Pickett was a part of the hospital staff and had a home in Lufkin, Texas. She said he also practiced at other hospitals in Texas and used his airplane for work and pleasure.
Officials said Pickett split his time between Texas and Summit, Miss.
He had pilot’s ratings to fly airplanes with multiple engines and in weather conditions in which instruments are required, according to Federal Aviation Administration records. He also held a commercial rating.
Pickett was the first doctor for Memorial Health System of East Texas to perform a robotic surgery on heart and lungs, Ogletree said. She said it was the first time the procedure was performed in the area and before then the closest place it was done was in Houston.
“Dr. Pickett did not meet a stranger. He was a very friendly, outgoing physician. He was very approachable. His patients loved him,” Ogletree said.
Ogletree said the doctor had two children by a previous marriage and two with Laura.
Laura Pickett was an aspiring singer and had been to Nashville, Tenn., to work on a record, Ogletree said.
The Associated Press