Illinois grandparents killed in plane crash en route to Thanksgiving celebration in North Carolina

- Advertisement -

An Illinois grandmother and grandfather died in a plane crash on Saturday as they were on their way to celebrate 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 KSDKthe Krehers had departed from the St. Louis Downtown Airport in Cahokia, Illinois, and made a stopover 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 mutilated as officials investigated the crash

The plane, which crashed just outside Smith-Reynolds Airport in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, appeared mutilated as officials investigated the crash

Patty Kreher, 66, and Joseph Kreher, 64, died in a plane crash on Saturday

Patty Kreher, 66, and Joseph Kreher, 64, died in a plane crash on Saturday

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 Saturday afternoon on the crash, saying the Krehers were approaching from the west, ready to land on runways 3-3 before starting a circle around the airport.

“The pilot communicated to circle the airfield for a second attempt and during the circle maneuver the aircraft lost control and hit the ground,” Wentz said.

A family member spoken to WGHP said the Krehers flew into town to celebrate Thanksgiving, a trip they had 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 into several factors that may have caused the plane to crash.

“We will investigate the environment, what the weather was like and what the impact was on that flight,” Wentz said.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will both be involved in the investigation.

The Krehers were circling the airfield when they crashed Saturday afternoon

The Krehers were circling the airfield when they crashed Saturday afternoon

The Krehers were circling the airfield when they crashed Saturday afternoon

NTSB official Pete Wentz said they are investigating several factors, including weather and environment, as possible causes of the crash

NTSB official Pete Wentz said they are investigating several factors, including weather and environment, as possible causes of the crash

NTSB official Pete Wentz said they are investigating several 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 Krehers traveled from Illinois to North Carolina to visit their son and grandchildren for Thanksgiving

The Krehers traveled from Illinois to North Carolina to visit their son and grandchildren for Thanksgiving

The aircraft's tail appeared to have broken off almost completely during the crash

The aircraft's tail appeared to have broken off almost completely during the crash

The aircraft’s tail appeared to have broken off almost completely during the crash

A resident near where the plane crashed described the scene in an interview with the Winston Salem Journal.

“I couldn’t say it was a plane,” said Susan Harrison-Bailey, who said the plane crashed in her backyard.

“There was a lot of smoke… I could see it had hit the trees. It landed straight up and down,” she said.

The wreckage was cleared from the plane on Monday.

No other persons were injured in the incident and it remains unknown what caused the plane to crash.

This is the Krehers' flight path before they crashed Saturday while flying to North Carolina for the Thanksgiving holiday

This is the Krehers' flight path before they crashed Saturday while flying to North Carolina for the Thanksgiving holiday

This is the Krehers’ flight path before they crashed Saturday while flying to North Carolina for the Thanksgiving holiday

The pair were considered pivotal members of their Freeburg, Illinois community

The pair were considered pivotal members of their Freeburg, Illinois community

The pair were considered pivotal members of their Freeburg, Illinois community

The cause of the crash remains unclear on Thanksgiving Day

The cause of the crash remains unclear on Thanksgiving Day

The cause of the crash remains unclear on Thanksgiving Day

Friends and loved ones immediately began remembering the couple, who were known as pivotal members of their Freeburg, Illinois community of less than 5,000.

“It’s just going to be hard for anyone who knew Joe and Patty,” Freeburg Mayor Seth Speiser said in an interview.

“I knew Joe and Patty, they had a machine shop with 159 very beloved people 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 there,” Speiser said. “I feel sorry for all the families who also work there. Because it was a mom and dad shop and now mom and dad are gone.’