Pilot of Crashed Plane in Creve Coeur Lake Dies, Wife Still in Critical Condition

Russell Hazelton, of Pennsylvania, was announced dead Thursday. He and his wife have a home in Town & Country.

Russell Hazelton, the pilot of the plane that crashed into Creve Coeur Lake Wednesday evening, died overnight in SSM DePaul hospital, police officials said Thursday morning. 

Hazelton's wife, Suzanne, remains in critical condition. A St. Louis Post-Dispatch report says she is on life support.

Russell Hazelton crashed his four-seat, single-engine Piper PA-28 Cherokee plane at about 8:40 p.m. A witness saw the plane go down and heard what sounded like an engine sputtering; the witness told that to Maryland Heights police. 

The witness told police the plane attempted to land on the east bank of the lake, but wound up upside down in Creve Coeur Lake, which is less than a mile from Creve Coeur Airport.

  • Read Patch's original story on the plane crash from Wednesday evening.

Maryland Heights Deputy Chief Bill Carson said rescue crews made valiant attempts to save the couple's life. 

He said Maryland Heights police officers were waist-deep in water while holding the wing of the aircraft afloat so it wouldn't sink into deeper waters while other emergency crews arrived. He said the cockpit was underwater when police first arrived and both passengers had been underwater for several minutes.

Russell Hazelton was not breathing when rescue crews removed him from the cockpit. But initial CPR attempts were successful as Carson said Hazelton was breathing when he got to the  hospital.

The Hazeltons were on their way to Creve Coeur Airport from Pennsylvania. 

Property records indicate they have a home in Town & Country.

Carson could not confirm if Russell Hazelton died of blunt trauma from the crash or if it was a drowning. 

The Federal Aviation Administration is now on the scene and assisting in the investigation. 

Town and Country police tell Patch, Russell and Suzanne Hazelton were both graduates of the city's Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training program through the police department. CERT is a program offered by police and fire departments that offers residents training in order to assist the community in the event of a large-scale disaster.

Captain Gary Hoelzer said the Hazeltons went through the program with about 40 members of their neighborhood.

"They are one of more of our more involved neighborhoods with CERT," Hoelzer said.


Gabrielle Biondo contributed to this report.

Editor's Note: In a previous version of this article, Patch reported that the Hazeltons owned a home in Chesterfield. We've corrected the story to report the Hazeltons own a home in Town & Country. We regret this error.


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