Local Victims In Missouri Plane Crash

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CREVE COEUR LAKE, MISSOURI -- A couple from Lake Winola was in a small, single-engine plane when it went down Wednesday night near a lake in Missouri.

The plane originally took off from Seaman's Airport in Wyoming County.

Russell Hazelton, 78, was piloting that plane. He died at a hospital after the crash. His wife Suzanne was his passenger. She is in critical condition.

It was a landing Russell Hazelton's made dozens of times. The landing strip is just past a lake outside St. Louis. Investigators believe Hazelton, for some reason, tried to land on the lake shore. The single engine plane flipped and landed in the lake.

The crash in Missouri sent shock waves miles away, to a community in Wyoming County that Hazelton called home.

"We saw it on the noon news, and that's how we found out. Then we went online and read the Missouri papers and cross-referenced. It turned out to be true," said Christopher Smith, who knew Russell Hazelton.

Hazelton was a retired airline pilot. He and his wife Suzanne lived at Lake Winola for 40 years.

Russell and his wife were taken to a hospital in St. Louis. He died, and Suzanne is in critical condition.

It was a trip the two made this time every year to spend the winter at their home in St. Louis. Before flying, the Hazelton's said farewell to their friends at the Scranton Canoe Club in Lake Winola.

Many of them gathered there after hearing about the crash.

"It just shows you how fragile life is, that he was here on Tuesday and you know we found out today," said Jeanelle Ransom of the Scranton Canoe Club.

Russell's death was also felt hard at Seaman's Airport outside Factoryville. The Hazelton's stored their single-engine plane there.

Folks at the airport said flying defined Russell Hazelton, and in his lifetime he had logged more than 20,000 flight hours.

Russell and Suzanne said farewell there too before taking off for St. Louis. The plane went down just a few hours later.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the crash.