OCONEE COUNTY, Ga. — County officials have released the names of three people killed in a plane crash southwest of Athens on Tuesday.

The Oconee County Sheriff's Office said on Friday that the coroner had positively identified the bodies found in the wreckage off of Elder Road as three men from Texas. 

The victims were 63-year-old Gordon Hall of Martindale, Texas; 67-year-old Donald Grieb of Houston; and 65-year-old Chris Weber of Missouri City, Texas.

"Again, we extend our sympathies to their families," the sheriff's office said.

Authorities first reported the crash on Tuesday afternoon and warned of flames and secondary explosions. The same day, they reported that there were people who died in the crash.

However, the coroner's office and the sheriff delayed the release of the names earlier in the week pending positive identification from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Medical Examiner's Office.

"We want to be absolutely sure before we release information on the identity. Please respect the deceased and their grief-stricken loved ones," the sheriff's office said on Wednesday.

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

In the days that followed, federal investigators scoured the main scene for clues while also traveling around the region to places where residence said parts of the aircraft had landed on their property.

Authorities said the main part of the aircraft landed about a quarter-mile from the nearest road and 500 to 600 yards form the nearest home.

The sheriff's office, at the time, urged locals to leave the parts alone until they could be examined and recovered by federal agents.

The FAA confirmed that the aircraft, a Piper PA-46, was traveling from the Columbia Metropolitan Airport in South Carolina to Tuscaloosa National Airport in Alabama.


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