Illinois grandparents die in plane crash on their way to celebrate Thanksgiving with family

Nov 25, 2022 | Political News

A community is in mourning following the tragic deaths of two beloved residents in a plane crash on Saturday morning.

Joseph and Patty Kreher, of Freeburg, Illinois, died when their twin-engine Piper PA-30 aircraft crashed in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, at around 11:15 am The couple was on their way to visit their son and grandchildren for Thanksgiving

The plane had taken off from the St. Louis Downtown Airport in Cahokia, made a stop in London, Kentucky, and then crashed near an airport in Winston-Salem, local news outlet KSDK-TV reported

The National Safety Transportation Board is investigating the accident. The pilot had communicated that there was a problem with the airport radio tower before the plane went down, according to Air Safety Investigator Pete Wentz. 

“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,” Wentz told the local news outlet.  

“One engine is not making as much power as the other one, we’re okay but that’s why we had the hesitation,” were the final words spoken to the control tower before the crash, according to Fox 8.

The couple was well-known and well-liked in their small town of 4,300.

“It's just going to be hard for everyone that knew Joe and Patty,” Freeburg Mayor Seth Speiser told reporters. “I knew Joe and Patty, they had a machine shop off of 159, very well-liked people in the area.”

The machine shop they owned, General Machine, provided heavy equipment repair and other machining needs to the Metro East, Southern Illinois region, as well as the Greater St. Louis area, according to their website.

“They had an unbelievable business out there,” Speiser added, “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.”

A family member confirmed with Fox8 that they were flying into Winston-Salem to visit their son and grandchildren and that it was a trip the pair had made numerous times. 

Joseph Kreher is listed as an instructor with the National Association of Flight Instructors.