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Army identifies soldiers killed by falling tree in Georgia

Aug. 11 (UPI) -- U.S. Army officials have confirmed the identities of two soldiers who were killed Tuesday when they were struck by a falling tree during training in Georgia.

The U.S. Army Fort Benning identified the deceased in a statement Wednesday as 2nd Lt. Evan Fitzgibbon and Staff Sgt. George Taber.

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The pair were killed Tuesday when they and three other Ranger candidates were struck by a falling tree during Ranger School weather-induced training held at Yonah Mountain, located about 60 miles north of Athens, Ga.

Fort Benning officials said Fitzgibbon and Taber were pronounced dead at the hospital.

Three other soldiers were also injured by the falling tree, and were transferred to a local hospital where two were treated for non-life threatening injuries and released. One soldier remains hospitalized in stable condition, officials said.

"Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with the families, friends and leadership of these two outstanding leaders who unexpectedly lost their lives in the pursuit of excellence," U.S. Army Fort Benning said.

The incident occurred amid training on the mountain when the National Weather Service in Atlanta had issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for the region, which expired early that evening.

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White County Fire Chief Mike Lefevre told local Now Habersham that wind from the storm caused the tree to topple over.

The incident came weeks after Sgt. 1st Class Michael D. Clark was killed and nine others were injured in a lightning strike at Georgia's For Gordon Army base.

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