Investigators examine wreckage from Lake Co. plane crash

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LAKE COUNTY, Fla. - Federal investigators spent the day Wednesday examining the wreckage of a small plane that crashed in Lake County on Christmas Eve, killing the pilot and injuring his wife.

The private plane crashed Monday afternoon, about three miles short of the Leesburg Airport, where family members were waiting for John and Julie Fetcko.

Family members said the couple were making their traditional Christmas Eve flight from their home in Crescent City to be with John's family in Leesburg for the holiday.

Near the crash site, witnesses said they heard the plane's engine cut out, then silence and impact.

The lack of fire led some to suspect the plane ran out of fuel. Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board removed the wreckage of the Piper PA-31 aircraft on Christmas Day to determine if the plane's gas gauge was working properly.

First responders said the pilot did call in an emergency before the crash.

Fetcko and his wife, both 53, were both longtime pilots who lived in a fly-in community in Putnam County.

Julie Fetcko sells real estate, specializing in communities centered around aviation. She survived the crash and spent the holiday hospitalized in Ocala as family members gathered at the home of John Fetcko's mother in Leesburg.

Officials at the Leesburg Airport worked with investigators to recover Christmas gifts, gifts on the plane when it went down.

Julie Fetcko is expected to make a full recovery.