Tuesday, April 3rd, 2007
Sanders dies in plane crash
By Shelley Grieshop
A Celina native and area businessman was killed Monday morning when his airplane crashed into wooded terrain in Tennessee on his way to meet his wife in Pigeon Forge.
Larry Sanders, 58, who was born and raised in Celina, was killed when his Piper PA-28, a four-seater, went down about 8:30 a.m. in New Tazewell, in northeast Tennessee, according to National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Investigator Butch Wilson.
Sanders was the only occupant of the plane. He is survived by his wife, Jill; a son, Brad, of Wapakoneta; a daughter, Kris, of New Lewisburg; and an 8-year-old granddaughter, Lindsey.
Sanders, who was described locally as a smart, funny and ambitious businessman, was the owner of the Beer & Wine Depot, a store and carry-out in Wapakoneta. He also previously owned the former Lamplighter Inn restaurant, located by the carry-out.
Witnesses told investigators the small plane's engine sounded like it was struggling, making a sputtering noise, before it crashed into the wooded area in Claiborne County. Wilson said clouds were hanging low Monday morning and the plane was spotted going in and out of them immediately before it struck the ground.
"It's difficult to see much of anything when you're flying through clouds," Wilson said.
Although a preliminary finding has not been released, officials say lack of visibility from the low clouds may have contributed to the fatal accident.
Beth Sanders said her father-in-law loved his family and enjoyed flying his plane. He reportedly took off from New Knoxville Airport early Monday to meet his wife at a chalet the couple own in Pigeon Forge.
"He always had a smile on his face," she recalled.
Larry Sanders grew up near Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Celina and at one time worked at the former Pantry Pride grocery store in the city, she said.
Funeral arrangements are pending with Bayliff & Eley Funeral Home, Wapakoneta.