Friday, October 18, 2019

Piper PA-23-250 Aztec F, N778PA: Fatal accident occurred October 16, 2019 in Gonzale, Louisiana

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Baton Rouge;

Aircraft crashed under unknown circumstances into the Gulf of Mexico

Date: 16-OCT-19
Time: 00:05:00Z
Regis#: N778PA
Aircraft Make: PIPER
Aircraft Model: PA23
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: FATAL
Aircraft Missing: Yes
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: UNKNOWN (UNK)
Operation: 91

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

Dr. Steven Stone Schumacher was a trauma specialist for Saint Francis Healthcare in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. He studied at LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans in 1990.

The U.S. Coast Guard ended its search in the Gulf of Mexico for a small aircraft piloted by an LSU medical school graduate who officials believe crashed last week en route from Missouri, where he worked as a trauma surgeon, to Gonzales.

Steven Stone Schumacher, 63, was traveling alone in a Piper PA-23-250 Aztec F plane. His family reported him missing hours after he was scheduled to arrive Wednesday night, officials said.

Crews spent roughly 21 hours searching for the plane, covering more than 62,500 square-nautical miles before calling it off Sunday, the Coast Guard said.

"After the utmost consideration and review of all factors involved in this search and rescue case, the Coast Guard has made the difficult decision to suspend its active search efforts,” said Cmdr. Drew Casey, search and rescue mission coordinator from the Eighth Coast Guard District, in a statement. “We extend our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Steven Schumacher.”

The plane's last position over the Gulf was 440 miles off Louisiana's coast, and federal air controllers weren't able to contact Schumacher. He was expected to arrive in Gonzales about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, officials said.

The Coast Guard and Mexican Navy had been searching for the plane but found no signs of it. 

Schumacher, a trauma surgeon in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, graduated from the LSU School of Medicine. He was a resident at the New Orleans Charity Hospital's department of surgery, according to the Missouri health care system

Original article can be found here ➤

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A U.S. Coast Guard plane and a Mexican Navy vessel searched the Gulf of Mexico for a small plane Thursday after a trauma surgeon flew the aircraft hundreds of miles (kilometers) beyond its intended destination.

Steven Schumacher's family reported him overdue at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, two hours after he was scheduled to end a trip from Cape Girardeau, Missouri, to Gonzales, near Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the Coast Guard said.

An online flight tracker showed the Piper Aztec's last known position over the Gulf about 11:40 p.m. Wednesday, about 440 miles (700 kilometers) past Louisiana's coast, said Petty Officer Sydney Phoenix, a Coast Guard spokeswoman.

The Houston air traffic control center was unable to reach the pilot, Federal Aviation Agency spokesman Lynn Lunsford said in an email.

"If a pilot is not on a controller's frequency, there is no way for the controller to contact them other than to try and reach them on an emergency frequency that pilots are supposed to monitor. In this case, the pilot was not in contact with controllers and did not respond to attempts to contact him," Lunsford wrote.

Schumacher is a trauma surgeon with Cape Trauma Specialists, a partner organization with St. Francis Healthcare System of Cape Girardeau, St. Francis president and CEO Maryann Reese said in an emailed statement. "The Saint Francis Family is keeping the Schumacher family in our thoughts and prayers as the search continues for him and his private aircraft," she wrote.

Schumacher has connections in several other states.

A hangar lease with the Cape Girardeau airport for the 1977 Piper PA-23-250 Aztec F with tail number N778PA shows he signed it for Critical Care Response of St. Petersburg, Florida.

According to his LinkedIn profile, he has worked with St. Francis since July 2017, while also working for much of that time with University Hospitals Cleveland in Ohio. He has worked for hospitals in New York City, Kettering, Ohio, and St. Petersburg, not to mention four months teaching surgery for the University of Virginia School of Medicine in Butare, Rwanda, the profile showed.

He graduated from Louisiana State University with a bachelor of science degree, received his medical degree in 1990 from LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans, was an LSU resident in general surgery from 1990 to 1995, and did postgraduate work in 2007 and 2008 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, according to his profile.

Original article can be found here ➤


  1. Guessing the heater was expelling carbon monoxide and it was lights out very sad RiP

  2. Carbon monoxide detectors would be a good idea.

  3. Or hypoxia. He spent a lot of time at 14,500ft, and 10min at almost 16000. If he was using oxygen, maybe it ran out.

  4. Obviously a medical situation, either heart attack or succumbing to asphyxia. I hope they recover the wreckage and his body. No telling how many lives he saved (and tried to save) as a trauma surgeon. How tragic. But as another commenter said, yes, it is wise to buy a C02 monitor. I keep two in my RV, one in front, and one in back.

  5. I think there is less risk of carbon monoxide poisoning with a gas powered janitrol heater vs. a shroud on the exhaust stack.....