Closings: Schools, churches, day-cares and businesses

Business leader Jim Smith dies in Chesterfield plane crash

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Jim Smith, Photo credit: Ladue News

CHESTERFIELD, Mo. _Investigators are on the scene this midday of a single engine plane crash that killed a St. Louis business leader. The crash happened when the plane went down in a Chesterfield BP gas station parking lot at Long Road and Chesterfield Airport Road.

The wreckage of the plane is still at the scene.

Federal investigators including the NTSB have been combing over the plan for much of the morning.

The pilot who was killed is identified as Jim Smith, alocal developer who played a major role in restoring the Chase Park Plaza in the late 1990`s. He radioed the tower that he was having power problems shortly before the crash.

This all unfolded a little before 3 p.m. Wednesday.

Investigators say Smith was coming from Phoenix and was trying to land at the Spirit of S. Louis airport very close to where the crash happened. Witnesses say the plane clipped the canopy over the gas pumps and went straight down.

People tried to get Smith out but they couldn`t because of the fire in the plane.

Smith was the only person on board.

There was a small explosion when the plane crashed then the plane caught fire. Witnesses say they did not hear the plane`s engine as it dropped.

Investigators have been taking pictures of the wreckage this morning and studying the scene including the plane`s engine.

NTSB investigator Aaron Sauer says preliminary information shows smith did report some kind of engine trouble and that will certainly be part of the investigation. Authorities plan to move the plane later today to a secure facility in Tennessee for insurance purposes.

Investigators could be in our area for a couple of days but it could take six to nine months before an official cause for the crash is determined.

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