An Illinois grandma and grandpa were killed in a plane crash on Saturday while celebrating Thanksgiving with their son and grandchildren.
Joseph Kreher, 64, and Patty Kreher, 66, were killed when their plane, a Piper PA-30 Twin Comanche, crashed in North Carolina, just minutes from the runway at Smith Reynolds Airport in Winston-Salem.
According to KSDK, the Krehers had departed from St. Louis Downtown Airport in Cahokia, Illinois, and made a layover in London, Kentucky before their plane finally crashed around 11:15 a.m.
The grandparents reportedly circled the runway before the “plane lost control” and hit the ground.
The plane, which crashed just outside Smith-Reynolds Airport in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, appeared mangled as officials investigated the crash
Patty Kreher (66) and Joseph Kreher (64) died in a plane crash on Saturday
Pete Wentz of the National Transportation Safety Board provided an update on the crash Saturday afternoon, saying the Krehers were approaching from the west and were ready to land on Runway 3-3 before beginning a circle around the airport.
“The pilot advised that he needed to circle the airport for a second attempt, and during the circle maneuver the plane lost control and hit the ground,” Wentz said.
A family member who spoke to WGHP said the Krehers flew into town to celebrate Thanksgiving, a trip they made several times.
According to the National Association of Flight Instructors, Joseph Kreher is a certified flight instructor.
Wentz said the investigation into the crash will look at several factors that may have led to the plane crashing.
“We will study the environment, weather and impact on this flight,” Wentz said.
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will both be involved in the investigation.
The Krehers were circling the airport when they crashed on Saturday afternoon
NTSB official Pete Wentz said they are investigating multiple factors, including weather and environment, as possible causes of the crash
The Krehers traveled from Illinois to North Carolina to visit their son and grandchildren for Thanksgiving
The tail of the plane appeared to have broken off almost entirely during the crash
A local resident near the plane crash described the scene in an interview with the Winston-Salem Journal.
“I couldn’t tell it was a plane,” said Susan Harrison-Bailey, who said the plane went down in her backyard.
“There was a lot of smoke…I could see it being smashed into the trees. It just landed up and down,” she said.
The wreckage of the plane was cleared from the scene on Monday.
No other people were injured in the incident and it remains unknown what caused the plane to crash.
The couple were considered pivotal members of their Freeburg, Illinois community
The cause of the crash is still unclear on Thanksgiving Day
Friends and family immediately began remembering the couple, known as central members of their Freeburg, Illinois congregation of fewer than 5,000 people.
“It’s just going to be tough for everyone who knew Joe and Patty,” Freeburg Mayor Seth Speiser said in an interview.
“I knew Joe and Patty, they had a machine shop of 159, very popular folks in the area,” the mayor continued.
The Krehers were the owners of General Machine, a heavy equipment shop in Freeburg.
“They had an incredible business out there,” said Speiser. “I also feel sorry for all the families who work there. Because it was a corner shop and Mom and Dad are gone now.”