A Tiger Welcome: Clemson honoring victims of 2015 plane crash

Charlie & Scott Smith were beloved members of the Kosciusko County area
Published: Nov. 3, 2023 at 8:46 PM EDT
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KOSCIUSKO COUNTY, Ind. (WNDU) - A local family still grieves the loss of their loved ones eight years after the last time the Irish played at Clemson.

If you remember on Oct. 4, 2015, a private plane carrying four people crashed on their way to South Carolina. It happened during a hurricane, and the pilot and passengers had ties to Michiana.

Two of the men, pilot Charlie Smith and his son Scott, were beloved members of the Kosciusko County area. Charlie was Tippecanoe Valley’s first football coach and took his team to state, winning the championship in 1979.

Our own Tricia Sloma recently spoke with Charlie’s daughter, Michelle Smith Hansen, about the loss of her dad and brother, their legacy, and love for Notre Dame.

TRICIA: This is a tough anniversary, obviously. Your dad and brother, Charlie and Scott smith — big Notre Dame fans… How big?

MICHELLE: Yeah, big. I mean, they were both bigger than life anyway, but their love for Notre Dame football is… yeah, avid fans. And we love the Irish as well, so it was passed down to us.

TRICIA: You know, they didn’t miss a game. They went to a lot of away games, and Clemson was on their calendar for sure. What did the university do that meant so much to you?

MICHELLE: They have just been such a class act from the very beginning. I mean, from the moment of silence that night to sending flowers to the funeral and having us here and the special things they’ve done for us this weekend. Just, it means everything.

TRICIA: Let’s talk about the special things this weekend. They were tipped off that you’re gonna be attending the game from your husband. What’s planned?

MICHELLE: So, we got field passes. We got a tour of the facilities, field pass game day. We’re just super excited to be here, and it means so much. I think my dad is a little jealous that I’m getting to do this.

TRICIA: I think he’s very jealous. What a special trip to Clemson. Enjoy every moment, ok?

MICHELLE: Thank you. Go Irish.

Michelle started the SMITHSTRONG Foundation shortly after the plane crash in memory of Charlie and Scott. It funds a scholarship at Tippecanoe Valley for a student-athlete who embodies the character traits that Charlie and Scott stood for. To donate to the fund, click here.

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