Family and friends in a small Illinois town are mourning the loss of two grandparents who died in a plane crash while traveling for Thanksgiving.
Joseph and Patty Kreher, of Freeburg, Illinois, died Saturday when their Piper PA-30 small twin-engine plane crashed in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, around 11:15 a.m. The couple had taken off from downtown St. Louis. Airport in Cahokia, made a layover in London, Kentucky, and then crashed near an airport in Winston-Salem, KSDK-TV reported.
Authorities from the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the cause of the accident. Air safety investigator Pete Wentz told the local news station that the pilot had told the airport’s radio tower that there was a problem before the plane crashed.
“The pilot communicated that he needed to circle the airport for a second attempt, and during the circling maneuver, the plane lost control and impacted the ground,” Wetnz said.
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As the investigation continues, the city of Freeburg is mourning the loss of its neighbors.
“It’s going to be hard for everyone who knew Joe and Patty,” Freeburg Mayor Seth Speiser told KSDK.
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The couple was well known and loved among the town of 4,500 residents.
“I met Joe and Patty, they had an auto shop on 159, very nice people in the area,” Speiser said.
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The Krehers owned an auto shop business called General Machine, which provided heavy equipment repair and other machining needs to the eastern and southern Illinois metropolitan region, as well as the St. Louis metropolitan area.
“They had an amazing business,” Speiser told KSDK, “I feel sorry for all the families that work there too. Because it was a family store and now mom and dad aren’t there anymore.”
A family member who spoke to FOX8 in Winston-Salem said the Krehers were flying into the city from St. Louis to visit their son and grandchildren for Thanksgiving.
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The family member said the couple had made the trip from St. Louis to North Carlina several times before without incident.
Joseph Kreher is listed as a flight instructor with the National Association of Flight Instructors.