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Son: Grafton man who died in plane crash was 'my mentor, my friend' (UPDATED)

  • Edward-Zezlina-and-Linda-O-Brien-dead-in-plane-crash-Monday

    Edward Zezlina and Linda O'Brien pictured in a selfie taken by O'Brien. The couple was killed in a plane crash Monday, April 16 in Coshocton County.

    Provided photo

  • Edward-M-Zezlina

    Edward M. Zezlina Sr.

    PHOTO VIA FACEBOOK

  • Edward-Zezlina-killed-in-plane-crash-Monday

    Edward Zezlina, of Grafton, is pictured in his plane. Zezlina and his girlfriend Linda O'Brien were killed in a plane crash Monday, April 16 in Coshocton County.

    Photo provided

  • Edward-Zezlina-serving-in-Vietnam

    Edward Zezlina, left, is pictured while serving in the army in Vietnam. Zezlina and his girlfriend, Linda O'Brien were killed in a plane crash in Coshocton on Monday, April 16.

    Photo provided

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A son of the Grafton man who died in a plane crash Monday recalled his father’s passion for flying and his own memories of taking plane rides with him when he was 4 years old.

“This accident leaves me confused and believing it’s not real,” Army Master Sgt. Edward Zezlina Jr. wrote via Facebook. “My father was a great pilot and cautious of the hazards of flying.”

Edward Zezlina Sr., 67, and his girlfriend, Linda O’Brien, 71, both of Grafton, were killed in a plane crash in Coshocton on Monday. Zezlina Jr. shared more about his father as he traveled to Colorado, then Ohio, from Afghanistan.

Edward-M-Zezlina

Edward M. Zezlina Sr.

PHOTO VIA FACEBOOK Enlarge

Edward Zezlina Sr.’s 1971 Beechcraft Bonanza was flying out of the Elyria Airport about 6:02 a.m. Monday. Temperatures reportedly hovered between 37 and 39 degrees, with winds at 15-26 mph from the west/northwest. Those conditions and additional investigations by National Weather Service’s Cleveland Unit in Oberlin show light to moderate icing could have occurred during Zezlina’s flight and may have been a factor in the crash.

Edward Zezlina Sr. grew up in Northeast Ohio and lived there for most of his life, his son wrote. He said his father joined the Army, serving in Vietnam, earning a Bronze Star with Valor and a Purple Heart. Zezlina Jr. said his father was a non-commissioned officer in the 75th infantry, attached to the 173rd airborne brigade. He conducted Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol missions while in Vietnam and his unit was later formed into the 75th Ranger Regiment in the late 1970s. His father’s service to his country inspired Zezlina Jr. to join the military.

“He was and always will be my inspiration to be better. … He was a man that I always looked up to and could trust to be there in time of need,” Zezlina Jr. wrote. “His values and service to the nation were instilled in me at a young age so there was no doubt that I would join the military.”

Edward Zezlina Sr. is survived by four children, three grandchildren, two sisters and two ex-wives, according to Zezlina Jr.

“I have lost my mentor, my friend, and my father but he (will) never be forgotten,” Zezlina Jr. wrote. “His legacy will live on through his children and grandchildren.”

Contact Carissa Woytach at (440) 329-7245 or cwoytach@chroniclet.com.


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