NY Plane Crash Kills 5 Members of Georgia Family, Including Former Insurance Analyst

July 3, 2024

MASONVILLE, N.Y. (AP) — Five members of a family from Georgia, including a former insurance analyst, who were visiting Cooperstown, New York, for a baseball tournament died when their small plane crashed in a rural, wooded area, authorities said.

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.

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 125 miles (200 kilometers) 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, all of Milton, Georgia. Ryan Van Epps managed Top Rail Fence, a fence design and installation company, in north Georgia, according to news reports and a press release posted by the company. He previously was a business analyst at Van Epps Insurance Advisory and Administrative Services in Roswell, a firm owned by his father, his Linkedin page shows.

The firm provides design and enrollment work for bank-owned and corporate-owned life insurance products.

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 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 endeavor they wanted to do,” he said.

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 Gov. 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.