JEFFERSONVILLE, IN (WAVE) – The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating a plane crash that killed three people Friday near Memphis, Indiana, just minutes after taking off.
The victims, identified as Louisville City FC founder and TEG Architects President Wayne Estopinal, Sandra Holland Johnson, Vice President of Business Development at TEG Architects and pilot Andrew Davis. The three were on their way to a meeting in Chicago when the plane went down around 11:30 a.m. Friday.
Estopinal, Johnson and Davis’s co-workers at TEG Architects say they act and think like a family, making the deadly crash Friday so devastating.
"We had heard the plane had gone down and at that point, you're just trying to gather as much information as possible," said Ernie Dreher, a partner at TEG Architects. Staff had a half-day on Friday so most were gone when they got the news about what happened to the plane but they quickly jumped in to help one another.
"So we all met and just got together and tried to figure out what we're going to do," Dreher said.
"And really, to just understand the details because we didn't have all the details and everybody was just hearing outside information," said Joel Wallace, a partner at TEG Architects.
Many of the people at TEG Architects have worked together more than a decade, so Dreher said a lot of Friday was spent consoling everyone in the TEG family reeling from what happened.
Monday, there was a solemn feeling hanging heavy around TEG Architects, the sign to the building at the Jeffersonville office draped in a black bow to show the grief inside.
Sandra Holland Johnson, called Sandy by coworkers, was from Shreveport, Louisiana. Sandy brought energy and happiness whenever she came up to their office.
"She was a lot of fun, liked to make sure everyone was having a good time," Dreher said. "She was very driven, very fun, big family.”
"She was definitely the life of the party and when she came into a room, you knew it," Wallace said.
She leaves behind her mother, four children and her grandchildren.
The pilot, Andrew Davis, was hired in February but Dreher and Wallace said he made an immediate impression on Estopinal and the crew.
“Traveled a lot with him recently, really enjoyed spending time with him and getting to know him,” Dreher said. "He had a wife, Erica, and two young children, he was very involved with his church. Andrew came on board earlier this year. I traveled a lot with him on the plane, a wonderful young man with a bright future. He’ll be greatly missed.”
Davis had recently gotten back from a mission trip to the Dominican Republic where he helped to build a home. Sam Thomas, Executive Pastor at Northside Christian Church, where Davis and his family attended church said Davis’s wife Erica and her family were at church on Sunday.
“They know this is not the end,” Thomas said.
The family was surrounded by love and support from their church family, ready to be there when they need a hand. Thomas said the family’s faith is strong knowing they will not turn away from God even in tough times.
“It’s a testament to where their hope is,” Thomas said.
TEG President and Louisville City FC founder Wayne Estopinal was killed in the crash. In the days since, much of the community is still reeling from the loss of a caring, creative man.
"He was a problem solver and that’s always what he pushed us, you’re not just drawing walls, you’re solving problems,” Wallace said.
"His big thing was ‘design does change lives’,” Dreher said.
Along with the retractable mound making soccer possible at the Louisville Slugger Field, Estopinal’s legacy is visible in parks and buildings around Jeffersonville and Louisville.
“He definitely made his mark here,” Wallace said. “And I think a lot of people that didn’t realize that are starting to realize it.”
Big 4 Station Park in Jeffersonville and the police station testaments to his work in his community. Healthcare architecture a point of focus for Estopinal, Wallace said, describing him as a lifelong learner who was recently one of roughly 60 people made a fellow in the American College of Healthcare Architects.
"He touched a lot of people's lives," Dreher said. "He demanded a lot but had a very big heart to everyone, would do anything for anyone at any time.”
It's that legacy of caring that leads their families and the family at TEG to carry on now.
“Wayne was much more than the president of our company,” Wallace said. “As well as Sandy and Andrew as well, Sandy was here 20-plus years. People become your family. That’s what we’re all trying to move forward with and what we’re all proud and honored to carry on for him.”
“It’s a very close knit family, woven together with Wayne," Dreher said. “He’s touched everyone’s lives.”
The NTSB is investigating the crash. A preliminary report could be ready in as early as one week, though it may be up to two years before they’ll know why that plane went down Friday.