Family of 5 Killed in Small Plane Crash

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An Alpharetta, Georgia family was killed in a plane crash on Sunday, June 30, 2024, while returning from a youth baseball tournament in Cooperstown, New York.

The New York State Police (NYSP) identified the victims as Laura Van Epps, 42, Ryan Van Epps, 42, their sons, James R. Van Epps, 12, and Harrison Van Epps, 10; and Laura’s father, Roger Beggs, 76. The plane crash happened close to Lake Cecil Road in Masonville, approximately 90 miles southeast of Syracuse, New York. The aircraft, a Piper PA-46 Malibu Mirage, was piloted by Beggs.

The Van Epps family had been in Cooperstown, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame, to watch 12-year-old James’ participation in the baseball tournament.

The aircraft departed from Alfred S. Nader Regional Airport in Oneonta, New York. It was scheduled to refuel in West Virginia before heading to its final destination at Cobb County International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia.

The NYSP reported that the crash site was located following an extensive search involving drones, ATVs, and helicopters. A distress call indicating a potential crash was received around 2 p.m. on Sunday, triggering a multi-agency search operation.

Investigative efforts are ongoing to ascertain the cause of the crash. NYSP’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Collision Reconstruction Unit, and Forensic Identification Unit are working alongside the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). An NTSB investigator arrived at the crash site on Monday to document the scene and inspect the wreckage, which will be relocated to a secure facility for further analysis. A preliminary report is anticipated within a month, while a final report, determining the probable cause, may take up to two years.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp offered his condolences to the family, stating, “our deepest condolences to all who knew and loved them.” He also assured that he and his family were keeping the victims’ families in their prayers.

Ansley Van Epps, a relative of the victims, shared her grief on Facebook. She wrote, “In light of this heartbreaking tragedy, we mourn the loss of our family. Yesterday, we got the devastating news that Ryan, Laura, James Ryan, Harrison Van Epps, and Laura’s father, Roger Beggs, were in a fatal plane crash, and our hearts are shattered.” She added, “As we deal with this unimaginable loss, let’s come together to remember and honor the beautiful lives they lived. Their kindness, laughter, and love will be forever etched in our hearts.”

Ryan’s father, Jim Van Epps, also expressed his sorrow to the Associated Press, stating, “It’s just a massive tragedy for our family and the end of five great lives, especially young lives.” He further noted that his grandsons excelled in both academics and sports, with 10-year-old Harrison showing promise as a lacrosse player.

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