PORT ALLEN, La. (BRPROUD) — The Port Allen High School (PAHS) Band of Blue held a balloon release to honor their fellow band member, Ian Kirby, Friday.
Ian, 17, Amanda, 13, and their mother, Sandra Kirby, were on a three-week vacation to Colorado and Utah.
All three and the pilot, unknown name, all died in a sightseeing plane crash in Colorado on July 17th.
Byron Hunter, the new band director at Port Allen High School, said after he heard the news, he was not okay.
“And I declined to talk to anyone about it for days,” he said. He even cancelled a day of band camp for the day to let the other band members grieve.
The plane was in the air for 10 minutes before it crashed. Recovery efforts have taken days because of the significant damage made in the crash. According to the FAA, the plane was a Cessna P337, which is a dual-engine aircraft.
“It’s unfortunate that we got to know them so well under such tragic circumstances,” said Port Allen High School Principal James Jackson.
Ian was a trumpet player for the Port Allen Band of Blue and was the life of the party for the Pelicans. He was going into his senior year.
Jackson knew Ian from the hallways at school. He said Ian was a was talented trumpet player, and that he had a bright future.
“And it just sucks to lose him,” Jackson said.
Haylee Johnson, a dance member for the Port Allen Band of Blue, knew Amanda and Ian since pre-school. She remembers Amanda playing the clarinet and watching her brother from the sidelines at games hoping to be like him one day.
“I knew Amanda way better, but I knew Ian too like he was a very good band player, he was always excited,” Johnson said.
The band ended their summer camp Friday with a finale performance. The band marched outside to hold a blue and white balloon release. They say it’s to not mourn but to celebrate the life of the Kirby family.
The balloon release was held on in the PAHS Band of Blue practice field.
“They were really good people,” said Johnson. “Always people to depend on, and they never let anything get in the way of them.”
Hunter says that the band members will continue to push forward for Ian this season.
“I told them hashtag crank for Ian, it’s just a saying, a saying that we got to push forward and do it for him,” Hunter said.
A GoFundMe has been created by a relative of the Kirby family to raise funds for a memorial service. To make a donation, click here.