WALHALLA, S.C. - Former Tippy Valley Football Coaches Charlie Smith, 71, and Scott Bibler, 51, are among four people that were killed Friday in a plane crashed headed to Clemson for the Notre Dame-Clemson football game.
Smith's son Scott, a 44-year-old Tippy Valley graduate and former basketball player was also killed in the crash. The 4th person killed was sprint car racer Tony Elliott. Elliott was 54. All four lived in Warsaw.
"It's going to be rough for the community, for Warsaw, and the Tippecanoe Valley community," said Tippy Valley Athletic Director Duane Burkhart. "They were prominent gentlemen, active in the community, best interests at heart, they would do anything for you, strong family men, they're going to missed for sure."
Oconee County Emergency Services Deputy Chief Adam Williams said the crash happened Friday on the shore of Lake Hartwell in a remote area about 20 miles outside of Clemson. Williams said first responders found debris on the ground and in the water before reaching the site.
The FAA confirmed that plane belong to Charlie Smith. Councilman Smith is a certified pilot and is included by the FAA in the Airmen Certification Database. Burkhart says Smith was the pilot of the flight.
Charlie Smith was the football coach at Tippy Valley when the program first started in 1975. He led them to a state championship in 1979. Smith currently served as a Warsaw councilman.
"Charlie lived life to the fullest," Burkhart said. "His legacy continues, it always will be. He started this program. He set the bar high, demanded a lot out of the athletes."
Burkhart said Charlie Smith also was an avid Notre Dame fan and went to all the games, home and away.
"Tailgating my goodness, they would leave at 3 in the morning to go to Notre Dame and set up tailgating.. They'd be there all day, they made you feel very welcome."
Charlie's son Scott Smith was a lawyer in Warsaw. Scott Smith was a Tippy Valley graduate and played basketball for the Vikings.
"They were a very close-knit father and son," Burkhart said.
"In some ways... Charlie and Scott being together, at the end, it's just something he loved going to those Notre Dame games with Charlie, and it's something he came back and talked a lot about, and just really enjoyed," said Jeff Shriver, a teacher and coach at Tippy Valley.
Bibler coached the Tippy Valley football team from 1990-2005 compiling a record of 98-68. He returned in 2014 but resigned after a 1-9 season.
Burkart says he and his wife were very close with the Biblers.
"He was the most genuine person you would ever meet," Burkhart said of Bibler. "He was a great educator, he was a very good coach and a very good friend to many of us."
"He had a nickname sometimes-- 'the mayor of mentone.'" Shriver said of Bibler. "He couldn't go anywhere without knowing somebody, shaking somebody's hand, bringing a smile to somebody's face."
Bibler served as a guidance counselor for a long time at Tippy Valley as well.
"His whole life has basically been based around helping other people," Burkhart said.
Michael Bendicsen, Principal of Tippecanoe Valley High School, says, "There's so many sad things about this, but I think what's going to be the most difficult about this is in tragedies like this we would go to Scott. In times of tragedy we would turn to him for help and support, so that's going to make this doubly difficult for us."
Elliott was a sprint car driver. He owned Elliott's Cars and Karts in Warsaw. He was known to be a big supporter of Warsaw athletics and recently retired from racing.
"He was unbelievable," Irish Saunders of Plymouth Speedway said of Elliott. "Tony was a lot of fun. Always had a smile on his face always was upbeat never really remember can maybe count on one hand the times I saw he was upset but always very positive."
Saunders said Elliott has a billboard up at the Speedway.
Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Berger said in an email to the Associated Press that the wreckage of the Piper PA-32 was found on the Georgia-South Carolina border. She said the plane was headed to the airport in Clemson, South Carolina, when air traffic controllers lost contact with the flight around 4 p.m.
According to InkFreeNews, funeral arrangements have been made for the Smiths.
Visitation and Memorial services are from 2 to 8 p-m, Monday, October 12 at the Warsaw Community Church.
The following day, dual funeral services will be held at 10 a.m.