PIKEVILLE - A plane that crashed, killing all three on board Friday, went down in thick fog, Kentucky State Police said.
”It looked like he made a swing for another approach, came in and skimmed the top of some trees and went down,“ said Kentucky State Police Det. Eddie Crum. ”Visibility here was terrible - the worst I've seen in a while. Once you got halfway up the mountain, it was like someone laid a blanket over your head.“
The crash, just short of the Pikeville-Pike County Regional Airport, killed the pilot, Herman W. Lester, 56, Prestonsburg native Julie Victoria Osborne Lester, 43, and Max Lester, 17, a senior at Pikeville High School, as they returned from Paducah where Max had played in the state high school golf tournament.
Lester's single-engine Beech A 36 Bonanza plane crashed about two miles south of the Pikeville-Pike County Regional Airport about 4 p.m.
National Transportation Safety Board air safety investigator Robert Gretz said the agency should have a preliminary report available by Friday or Monday, with information about what happened and where. The report will not include a possible cause, Gretz said.
”At this point, it's day two in an investigation that's going to run 6 months. It's way to early to speculate,“ Gretz said.
The victims' bodies were recovered about 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, said Elkhorn City Mayor Hank Salyer, who accompanied rescue crews to the crash site.
Lester, an Elkhorn City native, was the city attorney, said Salyer, a longtime friend.
The Pikeville airport is equipped with an Instrument Landing System, and Michael deBourbon, a Pikeville lawyer and pilot, said Lester was an instrument-rated pilot whose plane was equipped to make instrument approaches.
”He was a good pilot and a very cautious man,“ deBourbon said. ”He wasn't a cowboy.“ DeBourbon said Lester and his family were the first crash victims at the airport, which opened in 1983.