Another executive, Sales VP Wade Berzas, seriously hurt in Dec. 28 accident
The executive ranks of Global Data Systems were hit hard when a small plane carrying six people crashed shortly after taking off last weekend from the regional airport in Lafayette, Louisiana, killing Robert “Vaughn” Crisp II, the MSP’s vice president of operations, and seriously injuring Wade Berzas, vice president of sales for the company.
The Lowdown: Also killed in the crash were Gretchen Vincent, the wife of GDS President Chris Vincent; her 15-year-old son, Michael “Walker” Vincent; and Ian Biggs, the plane’s pilot and aircraft manager for GDS since 2001.
The Details: The plane – which also was carrying sports journalist Carley Ann McCord – was on its way to Atlanta for the Peach Bowl college football game between Louisiana State University (LSU) and Oklahoma University when it crashed. Officials with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which is investigating the crash, said during a news conference this week that the plane had been in the air for about a minute before it crashed, according to a CNN report.
Crisp, 59, was a dedicated fan of LSU football and left behind a wife, son, stepson, two stepdaughters, 12 grandchildren, his mother, and four sisters, according to his obituary. He had been at GDS for more than 10 years after stints with such companies as Broadpoint and CapRock Communications.
Berzas, the lone survivor of the crash, has held multiple sales positions during his nine years at GDS, including the past three years as vice president of sales. Earlier this week, he was listed in critical condition, suffering from severe burns over much of his body, according to CNN.
NTSB officials said the weather was overcast but “flyable,” and that witnesses said they saw the plane shaking and flying low to the ground before hitting power lines. There was no distress call, they said, adding that there also was no cockpit voice recording on the plane. A preliminary report should be ready within two weeks, though a final report is probably a year away, CNN reported.
Background: Founded in 1987, GDS offers managed cloud communications, SD-WAN, and security solutions, as well as professional services such as assessment, design, and implementation. The company, whose annual revenue is about $52 million, according to Hoovers, supports midsize and large enterprises, specializing in a handful of verticals – government, health care, industrial construction, marine transportation, and oil and gas.
The Buzz: “He had a charismatic smile that could light up any room, and if he liked you, he loved you,” read Crisp’s obituary. “Vaughn was a loving man who never asked for anything but gave everything he had to anyone in need. He was a practical joker who loved pressing your buttons just to see your reaction. Vaughn’s sense of humor and love of life was contagious to those around him. He had an affection for muscle cars and loud music while driving. Vaughn was a huge LSU football fan; he never missed a game whether he was at the game or watching it on TV.”