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Pilot Killed In Crash Of Small Plane At Creve Coeur Park

Tim Lloyd
St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 7:40 am Oct. 30 with news on another death resulting from the crash.

A spokesperson for DePaul Hospital says the wife of the pilot who died in a plane crash in Creve Coeur Lake last Wednesday has also died.

Suzanne Hazelton, 69, died on Monday after being on life support since the crash. She was the only passenger in the plane, which crashed during a trip from Pennsylvania to Creve Coeur Airport in St. Louis.

Our previous story:

Updated 9:55 am Oct. 25, and then at 11:20 am with additional quotes from Maj. Bill Carson.

The pilot of the small plane that crashed in the lake at Creve Couer Park has died.

Russell C. Hazelton, 78, was the owner of the Piper Cherokee that went down in the park about 8:40 last night. His wife Suzanne, the only passenger, remains in critical condition at DePaul Hospital.

Maryland Heights deputy police chief Bill Carson says he does not know whether Russell Hazelton drowned,  or died as a result of injuries suffered in the crash. He says both occupants were under water for several minutes before being rescued by emergency personnel.

"Their efforts to get the people out of the plane, to perform CPR, and transport them to the hospital were very valiant efforts to save this couple," Carson said. "The medical examiner's office will certainly be doing an evaluation to determine if the injuries were trauma-related from the crash or if it was a drowning injury."

The plane is registered to the Hazelton's address in Factoryville, Penn., about 15 miles outside of Scranton. Property records in St. Louis County show the couple also owns a condominium in Chesterfield.

Carson says the Hazeltons were flying from Pennsylvania to Creve Coeur Airport, and made a refueling stop in Ohio. He says officials with the Federal Aviation Administration are on the scene, and will be joined by investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board.

Carson says emergency personnel did not report any mayday calls from the plane, which witnesses say appeared to be experiencing mechanical problems as it approached the airport, about two miles from the crash site.

Our original story:

Updated 12:30 a.m., Oct. 25  with comments from  Maryland Heights Deputy Police Chief Maj. Bill Carson.

A small plane has crashed into the lake at Creve Coeur Park in Maryland Heights.

Maryland Heights Deputy Police chief Maj. Bill Carson told St. Louis Public Radio's Tim Lloyd that his department got the first call about the crash around 8:40 p.m. on Wednesday. 

When police arrived at the scene, the cockpit was submerged and they couldn’t pry it open.  Multiple police officers got under the wings and lifted it out of the water to keep the pilot and passenger from drowning.

When firefighters arrived, they where able to free the two victims from the four-seat plane - they are in critical condition at DePaul Hospital. Their identities have not been released. Dive teams found no additional victims.

Carson said according to an eyewitness report, the plane sounded like it was having engine trouble and appeared to be trying to land on a beach on the east side of the lake.

"But, instead of hitting the shore the plane actually hit the water and flipped over upside down,” Carson said. 

Federal Aviation Administration records show the plane, a single-engine Piper Cherokee, is registered to Russell C.Hazelton of Pennsylvania, a former captain with Trans World Airlines and now a director at Penn Security Bank and Trust.  It's not yet known if Hazelton was on board. Flight records show the plane taking off from a municipal airport outside of Columbus, Ohio around 6 p.m., with plans to land at Creve Coeur Airport, which is located less than two miles from the crash site.

The scene will be left intact until the FAA can investigate.

Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann

Follow Tim Lloyd on Twitter: @TimSLloyd

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.
Tim Lloyd was a founding host of We Live Here from 2015 to 2018 and was the Senior Producer of On Demand and Content Partnerships until Spring of 2020.