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Officials concluding initial plane crash investigation

Federal officials plan to wrap up preliminary investigations this weekend, surrounding a deadly airplane crash in Hampton.

Two Atlanta-area men were found dead inside the wreckage Tuesday, according to Henry County Coroner Donald Cleveland. The five-ton aircraft crashed in a wooded area near the Atlanta Motor Speedway around 11:42 a.m. Tuesday.

The 1967 Dehavilland-6-100, Twin Otter, had no black box, a "cockpit voice recorder," and was not required to have one, according to National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Spokesman Peter Knudson.

Grieving family members of one of the crash victims – 48-year-old Oriel Roberts, of Hampton — announced to the Henry Daily Herald newspaper, their plan to hold a memorial service on Monday, March 14, at 11 a.m. It will be at Divine Faith Ministries International, 9800 Tara Blvd., in Jonesboro.

The other victim in the crash was identified as 37-year-old Bryan Hedrick, of Roswell.

Roberts' sister, Sharon Roberts, arrived with other family members Tuesday night, after being told of the mishap. Oriel Roberts' sister said his remains will be returned to the St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, and interred on March 19.

The single father of five, who lived in Hampton, worked for the National AeroTech Aviation, Inc., at Tara Field, in Hampton, according to his sister. She said her brother has lived in the Hampton area for the past nine years.

Roberts had experience flying, the sister added. Sharon Roberts described him as an "aeronautical engineer/pilot," with training from the Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology, in Tulsa, Okla., and Embry Riddle Aeronautics University in Daytona, Fla. He served as an instructor in aeronautical engineering at Twin Otter International in Las Vegas, Nev., she added.

Local and federal authorities remained mum about the circumstances surrounding the crash. Efforts to ascertain who was piloting the aircraft, at the time of the crash, were unsuccessful. The Associated Press reported that Hedrick was piloting the plane.

NTSB officials reiterated that, as a matter of policy, the agency does not release identities of victims in airplane crashes.

"We don't give out names, that's done the local authorities," said NTSB Spokesman Peter Knudson. NTSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating all civil aviation accidents in the country.

Agency officials also said they are not speculating as to the cause of the crash, which took the lives of the two Atlanta-area men.

However, a preliminary report on the investigation into the cause of the crash should be out the end of next week, according to NTSB AeroSafety Investigator Luke Schiada.

Schiada said investigators are examining the aircraft at an off-site location away from the scene of the crash, which was documented earlier this week. He said he expects the investigation will be a six- to eight-month long process.

"It's a process," Schiada said. "It takes time. We just want to get as much factual information as possible."

Oriel Roberts' sister, Sharon, said her brother, who was affectionately called "Cookie," enjoyed traveling and photography, when he was not flying.

"He was very helpful and very people-oriented, very loving, and he had no enemies," she said, of her babrother, adding he was the youngest, and only male in a family of nine sisters.

"He was the last one, and gone too soon."