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Georgia community mourns the death of the Van Epps family – NBC New York

Georgia community mourns the death of the Van Epps family – NBC New York

Georgia community mourns the death of the Van Epps family – NBC New York

Loved ones, friends and community members are mourning the Georgia family killed in a devastating small plane crash in upstate New York, remembering the two young men who died as exceptional scholar athletes and their parents as committed adults who sought to support them in every endeavor.

The Van Epps family was returning home Sunday after a trip to Cooperstown, where 12-year-old James was participating in a baseball tournament. James’ grandfather, a licensed pilot, had offered to drive them.

Also on board were Laura Van Epps, James’ mother, his father Ryan and his 10-year-old brother Harrison. All five were pronounced dead at the scene after the single-engine Piper PA-46 piloted by their grandfather Roger Beggs crashed in the town of Masonville around 2 p.m. after taking off from Albert S. Nader Regional Airport in Oneonta.

It took hours to find the plane in the rural area. Bodies were among the wreckage, authorities said.

Jim Van Epps, Ryan’s father and the other grandfather of the two boys, told the Associated Press that the loss was “a huge tragedy for our family and the end of five great lives, especially young lives.”

Laura and Ryan Van Epps were both 42 years old.

Jim Van Epps told The Associated Press that his grandchildren, who lived in the Atlanta suburb of Milton, were doing well in school and sports, and that 10-year-old Harrison was a promising lacrosse player.

“Ryan and Laura supported their children in any project they wanted to undertake,” she said.

The boys’ school, King’s Ridge Christian School, asked for prayers for the family and said: “This is a shocking and heartbreaking loss for our community.”

Jim Van Epps said Laura Van Epps’ father offered to take the family to the tournament and watch it with him. They were headed to Cobb County International Airport in Atlanta, with a fuel stop in West Virginia, when they crashed.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.

Georgia’s governor acknowledged the tragedy in a post Monday afternoon.