"Robert and Sandra lived life to the fullest and were two of the most thoughtful and loving people you could know," family members said.
A couple who shared a passion for flying tragically passed away in a plane crash in Georgia "doing what they loved". The pair was aboard a small plane that crashed in Watkinsville on April 26 shortly after 2:30 p.m. local time, according to the Oconee County Sheriff's Office (OCSO).
Robert Denton, 76, and Sandra Denton, 75, were identified as the victims, according to a statement from family members that was released by the sheriff's office on Facebook. The statement shared, "We can confirm the plane that crashed off Government Station Road in Watkinsville in Oconee County, Georgia on Wednesday, April 26th was owned by the Denton Family."
A statement from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which PEOPLE was able to get hold of, stated that the couple was flying a single-engine Cessna 177B, which made an emergency landing in a field southwest of Athens Ben Epps Airport. "We are devastated," the couple's family wrote in the statement released on Facebook, noting that the pair were both seasoned pilots. "While taken from us far too soon, we find comfort knowing they were together and doing what they loved, flying," the family added.
Robert and Sandra were flying from Leesburg, Fla., to Winder, Ga., in their family's plane at the time of the tragedy, according to the family's statement. Oconee County Sheriff James Hale stated that the plane was destroyed upon impact, per Athens Banner-Herald.
Robert and Sandra were "beloved residents" of The Villages retirement community in Florida as well as Williamsburg and Clare, Michigan. "Robert and Sandra lived life to the fullest and were two of the most thoughtful and loving people you could know," family members said. "We are sincerely grateful for the outpouring of support shown to our family from Robert and Sandra's many friends and neighbors."
"We also wish to extend our gratitude to the Oconee County Sheriff's Office and first responders who were at the crash scene, as well as the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office in Michigan for their assistance. We ask that you please respect our family's privacy during this difficult time."
Couple Robert and Sandra Denton killed in plane crash during 400-mile trip. An elderly couple described by relatives as “seasoned pilots” died doing what they loved Thursday, after their single-engine plane crashed into a field in Georgia. 🙏🙏 https://t.co/WLDMHKCbPH— CJ4America (@GrammyC4Zone) April 29, 2023
The National Transportation Safety Board and FAA are still conducting their inquiries. The majority of the land along Government Station Road belongs to UGA and is used for the college's agricultural programs as well as cattle pastures. Residents around Stonebridge Parkway and Latham Drive are urged to phone the Oconee County Georgia Sheriff's Office instead of moving any potential plane crash wreckage they may come upon. Their number is 706-769-5665, per Athens Banner-Herald.
Heartbreaking stories like this always touch my heart. An elderly loving couple, ages 76 and 75, described by relatives as “seasoned pilots” died after their single-engine plane crashed into a field in Georgia. May they both be in God’s Glorious Dimension. https://t.co/iprxSxswZe— Fernando Amandi Sr.🌐 (@FernandoAmandi) April 30, 2023
Cover Image Source: Facebook | Oconee County Georgia Sheriff's Office