Stephen Lester Dies in Tulsa Plane Crash

Tulsa doctor, Stephen T. Lester, his wife and two daughters died in the crash of a small airplane today, along with family friend, Dr. Kenneth Veteto. See updates below – latest 9-7-09 – funeral arrangements.

Dr. Stephen T. Lester

Dr. Lester was the principle in Pain Care Associates, a pain management practice. Lester 48, his wife Dana 48, and their daughters Christina 13 and Laura 16 perished along with a family friend, Dr. Kenneth Veteto when the plane came down in Chandler Park this morning in heavy fog. The family, and Dr. Veteto were on their way to the Oklahoma University game in Dallas against BYU.

It is not clear who was piloting the Piper single-engine, six-seater airplane, which took off from Jones Riverside Airport bound for Dallas Love Field.

Dr. Lester was an anesthesiologist and certified in pain management. Dr. Kenneth Veteto is survived by his wife, a daughter and son. He was an Internist at the Warren Clinic in Tulsa.

According to witnesses, the plane burst into flames in Chandler Park about 10:45 a.m. this morning. It is believed, but not confirmed, that the plane may have hit a tower not visible in the fog. Two passengers were ejected, and three still in the plane when emergency crews arrived.

A bike rally was underway in the park at the time.

Witnesses on the scene heard a loud noise – a big pop – before the plane crashed into the field. After tumbling into the field, the small plane broke into several pieces and caught fire. Two victims were ejected, and three remained in the plane, according to witness accounts.

I heard a screeching noise and didn’t know what it was,” he said. “I looked over, and next thing you hear an explosion and a fireball shot across the sky.”

My family has personal experiences with Dr. Lester. He was always professional and friendly. He successfully treated my mother over a 5 year period and made her life worth living. I am grateful for him. This is the second doctor my family has lost in a small airplane crash, so as I remember Dr. Lester, his family and friend, Dr. Veteto, I also remember Dr. Rhonda Lunn, a surgeon and OBGYN – an amazing doctor, mother and friend who died in October 2007.

Update 9-6-09:
Dr. and Mrs. Lester were survived by two children not aboard the plane at the time of the accident. According to FAA records, the Piper PA-32 belonged to Dr. Lester. This report quotes Dr. Lester’s uncle, Mike Lester who is also the mayor of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, saying that Lester purchased the plane to “deliver seminars on pain medication to other doctors across the country.”

KJRH News reports that Steve and Dana Lester “were high school sweethearts.”

It is still believed, although not yet confirmed, that the plane did hit a transmission tower or the cable of a tower.

Update 9-7-09:
Funeral services for Dr. Stephen Lester, Mrs. Dana Lester and their daughters Laura and Christina are scheduled at 10 a.m. Thursday, September 10, 2009 at Park Plaza Church of Christ, 5925 E. 51st St., Tulsa, OK. Visitation at Floral Haven Funeral Home at 6500 S. 129th E. Avenue in Broken Arrow, will be held between 6 and 9 p.m. on Wednesday, September 9, 2009.

Funeral services for Dr. Kenneth Veteto will be at 1 p.m. Tuesday, September 8, 2009 at at Park Plaza Church of Christ, 5925 E. 51st St., Tulsa, OK. Moore’s Southlawn is handling the services. I have not found information on visitation.

The Lester and Veteto families were both members of the Park Plaza Church of Christ.