NEW ORLEANS — Friends and family of a man who died in a plane crash are calling him a hero after he saved his girlfriend’s life moments before the crash.
According to WDSU, Brianna Davis bought her boyfriend Reginald Hillard Jr. a trip in a Cessna aircraft for his birthday so could see what New Orleans looked like from the sky.
Hillard was terrified of flying, but he didn’t want to pass up the experience and he was willing to take the challenge to make his girlfriend happy.
While they were in the air, the pilot hit a rainstorm. Officials said the pilot, who has not been identified, was experienced but he didn’t call for help. His body was found buckled into his seat, WDSU reports.
Moments before the plane crashed, Hilliard pushed Davis out of the plane into Lake Pontchartrain. Davis was the only survivor, and a private yacht picked her up and took her to a hospital.
Family members said Hilliard was a hero for acting fast and pushing Davis out of the plane.
“He’s the hero. He was a hero living. You know, he died that way,” Yolanda White, Hillard’s cousin, told WDSU. “This was his first plane flight ever. First time he flew on a plane. And it was a surprise from his girlfriend Brianna.”
Hillard was a Baton Rouge rapper, a tattoo artist and a father of three.
Federal officials are investigating the crash to determine the cause.