Valley dentist killed in small plane crash remembered for his compassion

Steve Sauceda landed his first job as a dental assistant at Dr. Leonard Ledet's Weslaco-based mobile dentistry, shortly after he first opened it last year.

"We would start in Brownsville at 6 in the morning and end up in Mission around 5 in the afternoon," Steve said.

Dr. Ledet would travel by plane once a week from his practice in Southlake, Texas to provide dental care to nursing home residents in the Rio Grande Valley.

He died on Saturday while flying with three other family members to a Texas A&M football game.

His small plane crashed in North Texas shortly after takeoff.

The bodies of Dr. Ledet, 60, his two sons Paul, 17, Mason, 13, and his brother Gregory, 62, were found in the wreckage.

Sauceda would often pick up his boss from the airport in McAllen when he flew in on his personal plane.

He says Dr. Ledet had a passion for helping the elderly.

"If they don't have any money, we'll do free work for them," he explained. "Free dentures. Free cleanings. He was always that warm-hearted."

Just last Thursday, the dentist visited Valley Grande Manor in Weslaco.

Staff remembers his kindness.

Patients talk about how his work restored their quality of life.

News of his untimely death is a shock to everyone including Pablo Briones.

"Yea," the nursing home resident said.

Solid foods are easier to chew for him thanks to new dentures from Dr. Ledet.

"The dentures are fine," Briones said while speaking in Spanish. "But I'm still getting used to wearing them."

Alexandra Cuellar says many of the residents wouldn't have access to dental care if not for Dr. Ledet.

She's a social worker at the nursing home.

"He's a very nice doctor," she explained. "We're going to miss him. He was very caring, compassionate. He always seemed to be there, very approachable. We're going to have a void here at Valley Grande Manor."

Sauceda feels the same way at Dr. Ledet's office.

"He was a role-model," he said. "He wasn't just my doctor he was also my friend."

It's a tremendous loss for a community he loved to serve, according to him.

Funeral arrangements for the deceased have not yet been released.

The Federal Aviation Administration has opened an investigation into the plane crash.

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