NTSB Report: ECU Instructor Piloted, Smoke Filled Cockpit Before Crash

The National Transportation Safety Board released its preliminary report about a fatal plane crash that took the lives of a local couple.

The NTSB's report showed Debra O'Neal, an East Carolina University instructor was piloting the private plane while her husband Dr. Dennis O'Neal was the pilot-rated passenger on their fatal March 31st trip.

The report showed O'Neal reported a loss of fuel pressure at 4,000 feet.

Officials said the air traffic controller was directing O'Neal back to the Smith-Reynolds Airport when she also reported smoke filling the cockpit and a failing engine.

The NTSB preliminary report shows the plane crashed into tree tops 50 feet above the ground.

The O'Neals, and their beloved dog, Amelia, all died in the crash.

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

Debra Cohen O'Neal was 56 years old and an instructor at ECU.

The couple had three children.

They were laid to rest in Greenville April 3rd.