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Funeral Scheduled For Optometrist, ECU Instructor Killed In Plane Crash

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Wilkerson Funeral Home of Greenville says a Washington couple killed in a plane crash in Winston-Salem Sunday will have a funeral service Wednesday at 1:00 p.m. at Rock Springs Center in Greenville at 4025 NC Highway 43 N.

According to the obituary Dr. Dennis Alan O'Neal was 58 and his wife Debra Cohen O'Neal was 56 years old. Their beloved pet Golden Retriever, Amelia, was also killed in the accident according to the funeral home's website.

The O'Neals are described as avid pilots, sailors, bikers, and all around adventurers. They leave behind three children.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Beaufort County Association for the Blind, PO Box 491, Washington, NC 27889, or Wright Flight, PO Box 2105, Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948.


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Two memorial services are scheduled for a Washington optometrist and his wife who were killed Easter Sunday in a Winston-Salem plane crash.

Dr. Dennis O'Neal, and his wife Debbie, who was an ECU English instructor, died after their small plane crashed into trees in a residential neighborhood.

The Lancair LC42 took off from the Wilkes County Airport and reported engine trouble. Air traffic controllers tried to get the plane to land at nearby Smith Reynolds Airport before the crash.

A memorial service will be held outside the Washington Eye Clinic on West 15th Street at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. Then on Wednesday another service will be held at the Rock Springs Center in Greenville at 1:00 p.m.

So far funeral arrangements for the couple have not been announced.


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A Washington optometrist and his wife, an ECU English instructor, were killed in a plane crash in Winston-Salem, according to his office.

The Washington Eye Clinic says Dr. Dennis O'Neal and his wife, Debbie, died in the Sunday afternoon plane crash in a residential neighborhood.

ECU says Debbie O'Neal was a teaching instructor for the English department since 2004.

Smith Reynolds Airport officials said the plane, a Lancair LC42, was on its way to Washington from the Wilkes County Airport, when the pilot reported engine trouble and their intention to try and land at Smith Reynolds.

The plane crashed in the 900 block of Kearns Avenue, but did not hit any homes.

The NTSB says both were rated pilots, but authorities have not yet said who they believe was flying the plane at the time of the crash.

Brian Rayner, senior safety investigator with the NTSB, says the aircraft climbed to 4,000 feet after takeoff and then declared an emergency, reporting a partial loss of engine power.

According to his online bio, the 58-year-old Dr. O'Neal has worked at the Washington clinic since 2000. Prior to that he worked for a Greenville eye clinic. The couple had three children.

The NTSB says a dog on the plane died as well.


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Two people bound for Washington in Beaufort County are dead, after their small plane crashed in Winston-Salem.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the crash that happened around 12:50 this afternoon. The plane is said to have crashed near the 900 block of Kearns Ave., near Robinhood Road. The plane did not hit any homes according to firefighters.

Affiliate WXII reports that the light weight, composite plane was a Lancair.

Smith Reynolds Airport officials said the plane was on its way to Washington, N.C., when the pilot reported engine trouble and their intention to try and land at Smith Reynolds.


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