4 Lubbockites Dead in Branson, Mo., Plane Crash - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

3/20/06

4 Lubbockites Dead in Branson, Mo., Plane Crash

Four Lubbock residents are dead after a small plane crashed in Missouri Monday.

The plane went down around 12:30pm in the resort town of Branson. The FAA says the plane took off from Lookout, Missouri. It was headed to Lubbock when the pilot reported some sort of difficulty and tried to return to the airport.

The six-seater, twin-jet Seneca went down near a museum, crashed into a storage shed and burst into flames.

"According to witness, the plane dropped rather quickly below the clouds and crashed into the storage units," said a Branson police official.

"When it hits the ground, I mean there was this huge ball of fire and you could feel the explosion of it hitting, you know, coming through the ground," eyewitness Carl Mazur said.

The tail of the plane was basically all that was left after the crash.

The crash killed Dr.. Paul Johnson, his wife Marcia and their friends Bill and Betty Roach, all of Lubbock.

Dr. Johnson is known around the world as a pioneer in implant dentistry. He has given lectures in China, Peru and all throughout Europe. But dentistry wasn't just a job for Paul - it was a passion he shared with his family.

"He was one lucky guy because he got to come to work everyday and be with his family. (His daughter) managed his practice in this building that we're in and his two sons also operated their practice out of this building," John Leonard, Dr. Johnson's son-in-law said.

Not only was Paul a renowned dentist, the 71-year-old was also a well accomplished athlete.

Dr. Johnson came in 4th in the 1956 Olympic trials.

In 1992 he was inducted into the Abilene Christian University Athletic Hall of Fame.

Paul took the bronze medal for the men's 400-meter sprint at the 2001 World Veterans' Athletics Championships in Australia.

And just last year he competed in the Senior Olympics in Spain.

Dr. Johnson also volunteered as a track coach at Texas Tech.

His other passion, that goes back at least four decades, was flying.

"He wasn't the kind of guy that would have wanted to grown old in a nursing home, not that that's a bad thing, but for Paul, with his lifestyle, he went out flying," Leonard said.

Dr. Johnson was also on the board at Plains Capital Bank.

He was a member of the Board of Trustees at ACU.

He was also given a Distinguished Alumni Citation from ACU in 1988.

Paul is survived by his three children and five grandchildren.

Bill Roach, who was killed in the plane, was principal at Bowie Elementary School from 1962-1985, when he retired. And from what we have heard from so many people is he had a great impact on a lot of lives in this area.

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