MDOT unveils Lynyrd Skynyrd Highway signs as functional tribute to tragedy

The signs point towards the site of the infamous plane crash that claimed the lives of several band members.

The Mississippi Department of Transportation recently unveiled two new, special highway signs honoring the Lynyrd Skynyrd members who lost their lives in the infamous plane crash. 

The unveiling occurred on Sunday, November 15th with a crowd of fans present to witness the ceremony. 

Each sign will act as both a tribute to the band and a helpful exit sign, pointing motorists towards the location of the fatal plane crash that occurred on October 20th, 1977. The signs were placed on Interstate 55 near McComb and Highway 568 near Gillsburg, respectively. 

Until the erection of the signs, fans looking to visit the crash site had to rely on guesswork and limited granite markers in Gillsburg to find the site, which lies in a heavily wooded area without cell reception near the Louisiana border just 8 miles west of Interstate 55. 

“People were always asking where the crash site is. It’s very difficult to get to and there are no markings,” said Bobby McDaniel, president of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Monument Project.

In the crash, 20 of the 26 people on board survived, but the incident claimed the lives of singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, his sister and backing vocalist Cassie Gaines, and assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick. Both the pilot Walter McCreary and co-pilot William Gray were also killed in the accident. 

The signs came about as a result of a bill passed by Mississippi legislators, which requires that the state provide exit signs for the sought-after crash monument. Among those in support of the bill  was Republican Rep. Beckie Currie, who was a student nurse at the time of the crash, and worked in the hospital where some of the victims were brought after the terrible incident. She said many of the hospital employees worked throughout the night to help the crash victims without realizing that some of the were famous. 

“I spent a lot of time in the summers … listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd,” Currie said to the Charlotte Observer.

 “… and having way, way, way too much fun.”

If you’re passing through the area anytime soon, make sure to look up and check them out!