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Family and friends in a small Illinois town mourn the loss of two grandparents who died in a plane crash while traveling for Thanksgiving.

Joseph and Patty Kreher of Freeburg, Illinois, died Saturday when their small, twin-engine Piper PA-30 plane crashed in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, about 11:15 a.m. The couple had taken off from downtown St. Louis. The plane stopped at Cahokia Airport, London, Kentucky, and then crashed near an airport in Winston-Salem, KSDK-TV reported.

Authorities from the National Safety Transportation Board are investigating the cause of the accident. Air safety investigator Pete Wentz told a local news station the pilot contacted the airport’s radio tower that the plane had a problem before landing.

“The pilot communicated that he needed to circle around the airport for a second attempt and while circling, the aircraft lost control and hit the ground,” said Wettenz.

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Piper PA-30 Twin Comanches in flight.
(Universal Images Group via aviation-images.com/Getty Images)

While the investigation is ongoing, the city of Friborg is mourning the loss of its neighbors.

“It’s going to be hard for everyone who knew Joe and Patty,” Freeburg Mayor Seth Speiser told KSD.

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The couple was well known and liked in the town of 4,500.

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

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Krehrs owned a machine shop business called General Machine, which provided heavy equipment repair and other machine needs in the metro east and southern Illinois areas as well as the greater St. Louis area.

“They had an incredible business there,” KSDK said, “I feel sorry for all the families that worked there. Because it was a mom-and-pop store and now the mom and pop is gone.”

A family member who spoke to FOX8 in Winston-Salem said the Krehers flew into town from St. Louis to visit their son and grandchildren for Thanksgiving.

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Family members said the couple traveled from St. Louis to North Carolina several times without incident.

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

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