Gérard Leclerc died on Tuesday August 15 in the fatal accident of a small passenger plane he was piloting. Two other people were on board. A figure of public service, the journalist died at the age of 71.

The French media landscape is in mourning this Wednesday, August 16, after the death of Gérard Leclerc which occurred the day before. A small passenger plane crashed Tuesday in Lavau-sur-Loire (Loire-Atlantique), announced the parquet floor of Saint-Nazaire on the night of Tuesday to Wednesday, report Les Echos. According to sources familiar with the matter contacted by AFP, the French journalist was piloting the aircraft, indicates Le Point. Two other people were on board, again according to these sources: the daughter of former minister and president of the Senate René Monory, who was accompanied by a friend.

Gérard Leclerc previously held the position of columnist on CNews. The Canal group, owner of the news channel, as well as journalist Laurence Ferrari, who works for CNews, reacted on Tuesday evening on X (new name for Twitter) to his death. “We are all overwhelmed within the editorial staff of CNews, we who had the chance to work alongside him”, said Laurence Ferrari. A special program to pay him a last tribute was also broadcast this Wednesday morning on the news channel. The journalist passed away at the age of 71.

In a statement released overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday, the Saint-Nazaire prosecutor’s office (Loire-Atlantique) provided details on the accident of a small passenger plane in which Gérard Leclerc lost his life. The press release was relayed by Les Echos. The prosecution said the plane, a Robin DR 400, took off at 11:07 a.m. Tuesday from Loudun airfield (Vienna). He was heading towards La Baule (Loire-Atlantique). But after announcing at 11:37 a.m. at the Nantes airport control tower that he was entering Saint-Nazaire airspace, the pilot of the plane gave no further news.

“It did not transmit any distress message. The available flight data allow the flight path to be followed until 11:42 am, when it disappeared from radar. It was then located near Lavau-sur-Loire” , the statement said. The pilot of the plane was none other than Gérard Leclerc, indicated other sources close to the file cited above, specifying that two other people were present in the aircraft: the daughter of the former minister and president of the Senate René Monory, and one of her friends.

The prosecution indicated that the first debris of the machine was “spotted in the canals, in particular a wheel and a piece of registration”, adding that “at the present time and despite the searches, no body has been found”. Two bodies were located in the plane that crashed, but they could not be extracted from the wreckage, according to a source close to the file whose information is relayed by TF1 Info. The prosecution reported “particularly difficult” research due to the fact that “the plane was submerged several meters”. In addition, the crash site is “subject to very strong currents” and “visibility for divers is almost zero”. So far, two investigations have been opened. A first judicial investigation was entrusted to the air transport brigade and the Loire-Atlantique gendarmerie group, specifies TF1 Info. The second, technical, was launched by the Bureau of Investigations and Analysis (BEA).

It was on the radio that Gérard Leclerc began his career as a journalist, at the microphone of Europe 1, recalls Liberation. He served there between 1978 and 1985, before spending a year on RMC in 1985. The journalist then worked for three decades in the public service. In particular, he officiated for twenty years on France 2, which was called Antenne 2 until 1992. Within the second public service channel, the journalist held important positions, notably being editor-in-chief of the broadcast Télématin or the political service of France 2, or even deputy editor-in-chief.

He was also the president of La Chaîne Parlementaire-Assemblée Nationale (LCP-AN) between 2009 and 2015, after having been the editor-in-chief of the political, economic and social service of France 3 between 2007 and 2009. His current position was columnist on CNews. He arrived on the news channel in 2017. Gérard Leclerc regularly appeared on the program L’Heure des Pros hosted by Pascal Praud.

The flight during which Gérard Leclerc died was going to La Baule. The journalist was heading there to attend a concert by his half-brother, Julien Clerc, which is scheduled for Thursday evening as part of a festival held in the city. During a show in his homage, broadcast this Wednesday morning on CNews, the singer Didier Barbelivien, friend of the two men, indicated that Gérard Leclerc “had come to hear his brother sing”.

“True to his promise, he will hear it,” continued Didier Barbelivien, indicating that the concert should go well after having had a few words with Julien Clerc on Tuesday evening. Gérard Leclerc was married to Julie Leclerc (née Chantal Séloron), who was the historic voice of Europe 1 radio for fifty years. From their union were born three children: twins born in 1982 named Antoine and Mathieu, and Charlotte, their daughter born in 1987, specifies Sud Ouest.

The death of Gérard Leclerc aroused many reactions from his fellow journalists, but also from political figures. Pascal Praud, host of the program L’Heure des pros on CNews, in which Gérard Leclerc has regularly appeared in recent years, paid tribute to him on X (formerly Twitter). “Gérard Leclerc was an honest man. He was also a beautiful person”, wrote Pascal Praud. “I liked his intelligence, his humor, his distance. I liked our complicity, I liked our disagreements, I especially liked that he was present on the set,” he added. Delphine Ernotte, the president of France Télévisions, a group in which the journalist officiated for thirty years, spoke on X of her “tremendous sadness” on learning of the death of this “great journalist, recognized and appreciated by all”.

Within the political class, the president of the Les Républicains party, Eric Ciotti, expressed on X his “strong emotion” and greeted a “huge journalist”. On the side of the presidential majority, the vice-president of the Horizons party and mayor of Nice (Alpes-Maritimes), Christian Estrosi, declared on the social network to be “deeply saddened”. “His enlightened analyses, his passion for information and his sense of debate will be missed,” he added. On the left, the first secretary of the Socialist Party, Olivier Faure, indicated on X to have “very difficult to speak about him in the past”. Former socialist president François Hollande also paid tribute to him on the social network, referring to a “great political journalist” who was “cultivated, rigorous, elegant”. “I still hear his analyzes and I measure the talent that the press has just lost,” he added.