Wife among plane crash victims

Published May 28, 2007

She was an attorney, an aerobics instructor and a surrealist painter who could turn a garden into a swirl of color.

But on Sunday, authorities announced that Kathleen Freeble, 59, was also the third victim of a plane crash that killed her husband and another St. Petersburg doctor in North Carolina.

Freeble was flying with her husband, Dr. Charles "Chas" Freeble III, 59, and a friend of theirs, Dr. Freddy Camuzzi, 60, on their way to Camuzzi's golf vacation home in the mountains of North Carolina.

Camuzzi's plane took off from Albert Whitted Airport on Saturday morning and made it to the remote Mountain Air Airport, 35 miles northeast of Asheville, N.C., by 11:15 a.m.

But something went wrong when the plane tried to land. It bounced on the runway and turned into a speeding fireball, careening across the airstrip and damaging five other planes, according to the Yancey County Sheriff's Department. The three passengers on board died at the scene.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators were going over the wreckage on Sunday, but did not return calls. The National Weather Service reported clear skies and good weather Saturday.

Camuzzi and Charles Freeble, doctors at St. Petersburg General Hospital, were identified Saturday, but it wasn't until Sunday that Kathleen Freeble's name was added to the list of the dead.

Her mother, Mary Campbell, said that Kathleen retired a few years ago after a career as a Department of Veterans Affairs attorney. She and her husband eloped 39 years ago when they were 20 years old. They had one daughter, Morgan Johnson, 27, who is a lawyer in Washington, D.C.

Since retiring, Kathleen Freeble had poured her energies into painting and traveling. She and her husband were frequent travelers, flying on their own to Belize, swimming with sharks, whitewater rafting and touring Europe, Campbell said.

But the most important thing to Freeble was helping her parents - and others - with their medical problems.

"She was an angel, " said Campbell. "She was always over here taking care of us."

Her aunt, Dodie O'Keefe, said that Kathleen and Charles Freeble were often of help to people in need.

"She was an advocate for the veterans and he was an advocate for his patients, " O'Keefe said. "The sunshine has gone out of our lives losing both Chas and Kathy."

Camuzzi's son did not return a message left on his phone.

Jonathan Abel can be reached at jabel@sptimes.com or 727 445-4157.