Friend recounts last moments before Louisville pilot was killed in crash

BRECKINRIDGE COUNTY, KY (WAVE) - The pilot who was killed when his plane crashed into a field near Hardinsburg on Saturday has been identified as 54-year-old Donald Klein Jr. of Louisville.

Klein's mother told WAVE 3 she is "deeply in shock." She said, "I am almost not able to bear it. We know we must go on. We will miss him." Of her only son, Klein's mother said, "flying was his life."

WAVE 3 also spoke with a friend of Klein's who saw him just a few hours before the crash. Jordan Klunk said Klein began the day on Saturday by having breakfast with other friends at the Rough River airport.

Klunk said Klein had electrical issues with his plane and got a ride back to Louisville where he changed his plane's battery.

"Me and one other gentleman in one airplane flew down to Rough River," said Klunk. "As soon as we took off out of Rough River, probably two or three minutes after Don took off, he had called us on the radio. He said, 'Hey are you guys on the radio?' I said, 'Yeah, we are.' And he said, 'I'm going down in a field.' It was kind of a shocker to me. Everything seemed fine. That was his last words, yes. He was going down hard."

They lost contact with Klein. Klunk called air traffic control for an emergency. Klein's single engine propeller Lancair plane crashed into a Breckinridge County field.

"He was a really great guy," Klunk said. "It's kind of strange. Seeing him a few hours before and then actually seeing the wreckage and knowing he's gone. It is pretty strange."

National Transportation Safety Board officials were investigating on Sunday. "Their investigation may take a couple of days," said Breckinridge County Sheriff Todd Yates.

Klein's mother said,"He was the nicest, kindest, most beautiful son in the world."

Klunk said Klein was always around the airport tinkering with planes and had been flying for years.

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