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Small plane crashes into Oklahoma park, 5 dead

A SMALL aircraft plummeted into a park and burst into flames yesterday after hitting a guide wire from a communications tower, killing all five people on board, investigators said.

The six-passenger plane was on its way to Dallas when it crashed amid heavy fog near a baseball field in Tulsa, said Oklahoma Highway Patrol Lt. George Brown.

"The wings came off. The engine came off," Brown said. "When it hit, it rolled. It did catch fire. It rolled at least a couple of times, ejecting the occupants."

Brown said the victims, who all died at the scene, were pilot Dr. Stephen Lester, 48; his wife Dana, 48; daughters Laura, 16, and Christina, 13; and Dr. Ken Veteto, 50. All were from Tulsa.

No one on the ground was injured.

The Piper Pennsylvania-32 took off for Dallas Love Field from Jones Riverside Airport in Tulsa at 10:37 a.m. It crashed about 30 minutes later into Chandler Park, a recreation area with athletic fields and picnic facilities.

"Because of weather conditions, there was a low cloud ceiling that obscured the communications tower," he said. "It's apparent that the pilot did not see this tower."

Jeremy Richards said he was at the park for a motorcycle rally when he heard the crash. Richards said it sounded like the crack of a whip.

"I never heard that noise before," Richards told the Tulsa World. "I turned around to look and I see something flying through the air. I realized later that it was a body."

He and a friend, Mike Walker, were only about 100 meters away and ran to the plane, the front of which was engulfed in flames, he said.

"Nobody was able to be saved. Nothing could be done," Richards said.


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