5 Dead in Tulsa plane crash www.privateofficer.com
TULSA OK SEPT 6 2009
A small plane on its way to Dallas for the University of Oklahoma football game crashed into Chandler Park amid foggy conditions Saturday morning, killing all five Tulsans aboard.
Dr. Stephen Lester, his wife, Dana, their daughters 16-year-old Laura and 13-year-old Christina, and another doctor, Ken Veteto, all died at the scene, family members said.
Their plane, a six-passenger Piper, left Jones Riverside Airport at 10:37 a.m. and crashed within minutes after it hit a cable coming from a tower in the park, said Lt. George Brown of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
Witnesses said the conditions were extremely foggy, and the tower wasn’t visible from a distance. Stephen Lester, the owner of the plane, was piloting, according to the OHP.
Two other children in the Lester family were not on the plane.
Stephen Lester’s father, Tom, said his son and daughter-in-law graduated from the University of Oklahoma.
Tom Lester said his two granddaughters attended Metro Christian Academy.
Veteto specialized in internal medicine, Tom Lester said.
“The Tulsa medical community has lost two fantastic doctors,” he said.
Funeral services will be held Thursday, Tom Lester said.
He said his pastor recently finished a series of sermons about bad things happening to good people.
“I’m a firm believer in God,” said Tom Lester, a retired homicide investigator in the Tulsa Police Department.
Tom Lester said his son was a good pilot and that “I’ve flown with him several times.”
As family and friends gathered at the Lesters’ home Saturday evening, a neighbor, Jack Graves, said Stephen Lester “couldn’t wait to see the new stadium” — Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, where OU played Brigham Young University on Saturday.
Another neighbor, Denda Graves, said her daughter and one of the Lester daughters were best friends.
“They lived by the golden rule,” Graves said.
She said the family had recently come back from a two-week vacation in Kenya.
The Lesters’ plane came down southwest of a baseball field in Chandler Park, leaving the ground charred as it skidded.
When the plane hit, its wings came off and its body flipped end-over-end several times.
Two passengers were ejected between 500 and 600 feet upon impact, the Highway Patrol reported.
Jeremy Richards and Mike Walker were at the park for a Wild Bunch Riders and Zodiacs motorcycle rally when they heard the crash. Richards said it sounded like a whip.
“I never heard that noise before,” Richards said. “I turned around to look, and I see something flying through the air. I realized later that it was a body.”
He and Walker, who were about 100 yards away, ran to the plane, the front of which was engulfed in flames.
“Nobody was able to be saved,” Richards said. “Nothing could be done.”
Walker called 911 at 10:42 a.m.
Brown said federal accident investigators were headed to the scene Saturday, and a portion of the park was expected to be closed through the weekend.
Funeral services for members of the Lester family will be under the direction of Floral Haven Funeral Home in Broken Arrow.
Anyone with events scheduled for Chandler Park should call County Parks Director Richard Bales at 855-0754 for updates