As the nation mourns the loss of those killed in the Connecticut shooting, we mourn a loss in our own community.
A well-known and well-loved local dentist was killed in a plane crash Friday night.
Dr. Kelly O’Neal was a dentist in the Colorado Springs community for over two decades.
Those we talked to described him as a special man with a witty personality, who was not only an accomplished dentist, but they say more importantly a loving family man.
The dentist was flying his small plane when it crashed Friday night. Not only was the pilot who loved to fly killed, but also his 79-year-old father Robert O’Neal from Texas.
The dentist picked up his dad at the Amarillo airport. The Texas Department of Public Safety says the plane went down only 20 miles from the airport.
The crash happened during high winds, but investigators are still trying to figure out what caused the crash.
Back here in the Springs, the dentist held his own practice at Family Restorative Dentistry in the Rockrimmon area.
He served the community as a dentist for 25 years; 23 of those years at the same location.
An orthodontist, who works right across the hall, tells us he met Kelly when O’Neal was a dentist in the Air Force.
Dr. Allen Benning says O’Neal continually took courses to improve his work and made sure he had cutting edge technology. Benning says O’Neal always wanted the best for his patients.
His friend says dentistry was secondary to him; first was his love for people, treating his patients like family.
Benning has fond memories of playing golf with the dentist and says he was a unique person who was warm, caring and very witty, dedicated to serving the community.
Employees at the O’Neal office tell us they are in shock, and were emotional as they had to call his patients Saturday to let them know the sad news.
O’Neal was the father of three boys and one daughter, and leaves behind his loving wife Kathy.
One of his sons is a deputy district attorney here in the Springs.
O’Neal was a past president of the Colorado Springs Dental Society, serving back in 2005, and was a current member in 2012. Officials with the society call it a great loss for not only the community, but the dental community.
We’re told several fellow dentists who have respect for the dentist and his work have volunteered their services to help the dentistry out during this difficult time.