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Freeburg couple dies in plane crash on way to visit family for Thanksgiving

The pilot said he needed to circle the airport for a second attempt. The NTSB crash report said during the circling maneuver, the airplane lost control and crashed.

FREEBURG, Ill. — A small town in Illinois is mourning the loss of two grandparents. Long-time Freeburg residents Joseph and Patty Kreher died Saturday when their small, twin-engine plane crashed in North Carolina.

The Krehers took off from the St. Louis Downtown Airport in Cahokia. They made a stop in London, Kentucky and then continued on toward Winston-Salem in North Carolina. The twin-engine Piper PA-30 Joe was flying crashed near the airport.

The National Safety Transportation Board is currently working on the cause of the crash. While the inquiry is going on in Winston-Salem, residents in Freeburg are coping with their loss.

"It's just going to be hard for everyone that knew Joe and Patty," Freeburg Mayor Seth Speiser said.

In a town of only 4,500 people, most will have known the Krehers, including the mayor. 

"I knew Joe and Patty, they had a machine shop off of 159, very well-liked people in the area," Speiser said.

That's what employees of the Kreher's business, General Machine, said as well. 

"They had an unbelievable business out there," Speiser tells 5 On Your Side, "I feel sorry for all the families that work there too. Because it was a mom-and-pop shop and now mom and pop are no longer there."

The couple was heading to North Carolina to visit family for Thanksgiving. On approach, something went wrong. Pete Wentz, an Air Safety Investigator with the NTSB goes over the last moments of the flight.

"The pilot communicated saying he needed to circle the airport for a second attempt and during the circling maneuver, the airplane lost control and impacted the ground," he said.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators will work to determine the cause of the crash over the next six months. 

"What we do is like a 100-hour inspection," Wentz said, "make sure that the spark plugs, the fuel, everything is there."

While the investigation happens, friends and family will grieve the loss of the Krehers. 

"It's just a tragedy that this happened so close to Thanksgiving," Speiser said, "our prayers are out for this family."

Joseph Kreher is listed as a certified single and multi-engine airplane instructor with the National Association of Flight instructors.

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