Barbara Leader, Alexandria Town Talk

Two men are dead following an early afternoon plane crash Sunday near Lake Buhlow in Pineville. 

Sheriff Mark Wood confirmed that the small plane crashed northwest of the airstrip at Lake Buhlow shortly after take-off.

Wood said that the pilot and one male passenger were killed. He later confirmed the two dead were Ben Cooper and Blake Cooper, who was the executive director of the Central Louisiana Regional Port Authority.

Ben Cooper was an administrator at Oceans Behavioral Hospital in Alexandria, according to his Facebook page.

A 7-year-old male survived the crash and was taken to an area hospital.

“I’ve talked to the families,” he said . “It’s a miracle.  It looks like he’s going to pull through.  It’s unbelievable.”

Wood said that the child suffered head trauma and broken bones, but his injuries appeared not to be life-threatening. 

Luke Letlow, the former chief of staff for Republican Rep. Ralph Abraham who now is running for that seat, sent condolences to the Cooper family in a tweet Sunday night.

“I’ve known Blake since 2007, and considered him a true friend. I know they were both great advocates for our state and community, and will be truly missed,” he wrote.

Tioga High School remembered the two, who graduated in 2001, in a post on its Facebook page.

“They went on to become prominent members of the Alexandria business community, active members of Calvary Baptist Church and loving husbands and fathers,” it read. “We lift up the Cooper family in our prayers.”

The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office has secured the scene and will remain with the wreckage.  The Federal Aviation Administration has been called and will conduct an investigation upon arrival at the crash scene.