Lynyrd Skynyrd Mississippi crash site receives highway commemorative signs
Lynyrd Skynyrd, the rock band famous for “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Free Bird,” now has road signs pointing to the site of the Mississippi plane crash that claimed the lives of some of its members.
Fans gathered on Sunday as the Mississippi Department of Transportation unveiled the exit signs for Interstate 55 near McComb and State Highway 568 near Gillsburg, the Company-Journal reported.
The signs indicate the direction of a monument commemorating the plane crash of October 20, 1977, which killed some members of the group. Three large granite markers were installed in Gillsburg in 2019, but until the recent addition of exit signs, many people had to guess how to find the site in a wooded area near the Louisiana state border.
“People were always asking where the crash site was. It’s very difficult to access and there are no markings, ”said Bobby McDaniel, President of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Monument Project.
The monument has become one of the biggest tourist attractions in southwestern Mississippi, since it has drawn 4,500 people from 13 countries, 39 states and five Canadian provinces. And it was without directions to the remote site eight miles west of Interstate 55 – in a location without cell phone service for navigation.
Of the 26 people on the plane, 20 survived. Those killed were singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, his sister and backing vocalist Cassie Gaines, assistant road director Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary and co-pilot William Gray.
Mississippi lawmakers passed a invoice requiring the state to provide exit signs for the crash monument. Among those pushing him was Republican Rep. Beckie Currie of Brookhaven, who was a nursing student at the time of the crash. She said local hospital workers worked all night to help accident victims without knowing that some of them were famous.
Currie said she had always been a fan of the band’s music, “I spent a lot of time in the summer … listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd and having a lot, a lot, way too much fun.”