ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- In Asheville, friends gathered at Greg Byrd's house Friday afternoon. Byrd, along with two of his sons and the fiancee of one son, perished in a fiery plane crash along a busy Atlanta area interstate highway Friday morning.
The light plane slammed into the median wall of Interstate 285 minutes after taking off from DeKalb Peachtree Airport, killing Greg Byrd, his sons Phillip Byrd and Christopher Byrd, and Christopher's fiancee, Jackie Kulzer. Christopher's and Jackie's dog also died in the crash.
Before Greg Byrd went into business for himself, opening some tanning salons 2006, he served for 16 years as a deputy with the Buncombe County Sheriff's Department, in Asheville. He was still an active reserve officer.
"He was very professional," Sheriff Van Duncan said. "He loved life. He was adventurous. He really did a great job at the sheriff's office."
The elder Byrd and his passengers were headed to Oxford to attend the graduation of his youngest son, Robert Byrd, from the University of Mississippi in Oxford. Greg Byrd was an experienced general aviation pilot, and received his commercial pilot's license Jan. 22, according to his Facebook page.
The official Ole Miss Twitter account tweeted a message late Friday about the crash:
Kappa Kappa Gamma also expressed their sadness in the loss of one of their sisters:
Kulzer attended high school at St. Pius X Catholic High School in DeKalb County. Officials there released a statement late Friday:
It is with deep sadness that we inform you that a St. Pius X Catholic High School graduate, Jackelyn (Jackie) Kulzer, (Class of 2006) was one of the victims in today's plane crash in Atlanta.
Jackie is remembered as a wonderful young lady, a very popular, energetic, out-going individual that was always concerned about others.
Her brother, Matt Bailey, released the following statement regarding the tragic loss:
Our family wants to thank everyone for their prayers and support during this difficult time. The world lost four great souls today. Jackie and her fiance Chris were incredible individuals who positively touched the lives of everyone they encountered. They will be greatly missed. Our hearts go out to the Byrd family in Asheville, N.C. as they try to cope with the loss of three family members. Please pray for the Byrds and our family. At this time, we respectfully request our privacy.