Image Source : AP/FILE REPRESENTATIONAL IMAGE

Five members of a family from Georgia who were visiting Cooperstown, New York, for a baseball tournament died when their small plane crashed in a rural, wooded area. The single-engine Piper PA-46 crashed around 2 p.m. Sunday after taking off from a regional airport in Oneonta, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement on Monday.

The wreckage of the plane and the remains of the five people on board were found Sunday night in the town of Masonville, the New York State Police said in a news release. Drones, all-terrain vehicles and helicopters were used to search for the remote crash site, which is about 200 kilometres northwest of New York City. The victims were identified as Roger Beggs, 76; Laura Van Epps, 42; Ryan Van Epps, 42; James Van Epps, 12; and Harrison Van Epps, 10.

Family returning after watching baseball team play 

The family was returning to Georgia after watching the 12-year-old boy’s baseball team play in a tournament in Cooperstown, the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame. “It’s just a massive tragedy for our family and the end of five great lives, especially young lives,” Jim Van Epps said of the loss of his son, his daughter-in-law and two grandchildren. Jim Van Epps told the news agency The Associated Press that his grandsons, who lived in the Atlanta suburb of Milton, were doing exceptional in school and in sports, with 10-year-old Harrison an up-and-coming lacrosse player. “Ryan and Laura supported their boys in whatever endeavour they wanted to do,” he said.

FAA investigating crash

Online records show that Beggs held a pilot’s license. Jim Van Epps said Laura Van Epps’ father had volunteered to fly the family to upstate New York and watched the tournament with them.

The plane was headed to Cobb County International Airport in Atlanta with a fueling stop in West Virginia when it crashed, the state police said. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp said on the social media platform X that he and his family were praying for the victims’ families and offered “our deepest condolences to all who knew and loved them.” The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.

(With inputs from agency)

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