Tulsa Crash Victims Remembered For Their Faith

Sunday, September 6th 2009, 6:48 pm
By: News On 6

By Jeffrey Smith, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Tulsan Dr. Stephen Lester was piloting the plane that crashed in Chandler Park Saturday. On Sunday, Lester's father spoke out about the loss of his son, daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren.

Both Dr. Steven Lester and Dr. Ken Veteto were fathers, missionaries and deacons. And the loss has left a big hole in hundreds of Tulsa hearts.

Five pillars of the Tulsa community lost in an instant.

"All I can say is, Tulsa lost a tremendous man and family," said Tom Lester. Stephen Lester's plane crashed just five minutes after taking off from Jones Riverside Airport.

Lester and his wife Dana, 16-year-old daughter Laura, 13-year-old Christina, and close family friend Ken Veteto were all killed.

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"I'll miss 'em. But they're with God now," said Tom Lester. "And that really, I know I'm bawling, but that really gives me a great deal of peace."

Stephen and Dana were high school sweethearts and and OU graduates. Stephen was an experienced anesthesiologist and pain management doctor. He used his plane to fly around the country delivering seminars about pain management.

"I've flown with him a great deal. He was a very good pilot. Very careful," his father said.

Doctor Ken Veteto was a prominent internist. He had been seeing patients at the Warren Clinic for nearly 20 years.

"He treated them so well. And they loved their Doctor Ken so well," said Dr. Joe Reese, Veteto's medical partner and close friend.

"He's a man of integrity, a man of character. He loved his patients, he loved his family, and his patients loved him in return," Reese said.

The airplane was on its way to OU's season opener in Dallas when Lester's plane clipped a cable on a communication tower. Investigators say there was zero visibility because of dense fog.

All five victims were men and women of faith. The Lesters recently returned from a mission trip to Africa.

"We'll miss 'em sorely," said Tom Lester, Stephen's father. "While they were on Earth, they changed other people's lives, just by the good deeds that they did.

His heart is heavy. But he says his loss is heaven's gain.

Ken Veteto is survived by his wife, a teenage daughter and a son in college.

A funeral service for Veteto is set for 10 a.m. Tuesday at Park Plaza Church of Christ at 5925 East 51st Street.

The Lesters have two surviving children: a daughter who is in college, and a son in the U.S. Coast Guard.

Their funeral will be Thursday at the Park Plaza Church of Christ, located at 5925 East 51st Street.