Falling tree kills two Fort Benning soldiers, injures others during training in North Georgia

Two Fort Benning soldiers died and three others were injured when a tree fell Tuesday during training near Yonah Mountain in White County.

2nd Lt. Evan Fitzgibbon and Staff Sgt. George Taber were fatally injured, The Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning Public Affairs Office said in a release. The three injured soldiers were treated at the scene by Army personnel and transported to the hospital. Their conditions have not been released, but they remain in the hospital.

According to the release, all five were struck by a falling tree around 3:15 p.m. while sheltering during a weather-induced training hold. All five were transported to the hospital where Fitzgibbon and Taber were pronounced dead.

“We are all deeply saddened by the loss of these two outstanding Soldiers and send our heartfelt condolences to their families,” Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning Commanding General Maj. Gen. Curtis A. Buzzard said in the release. “They are in our thoughts and prayers.”

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Training is conducted by the Army on Yonah Mountain regularly. Fitzgibbon, an Infantry Officer, was assigned to the Infantry Basic Officer Leader Course, 199th Leader Brigade at Fort Benning. He was commissioned on May 22, 2021 from the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Taber was a special forces medical sergeant with the 7th Special Forces Group at Eglin Air Force Base. He enlisted on March 14, 2017.

“Those who volunteer to attend Ranger School represent the very best of our military,” Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade Commander Col. Christopher C. Hammonds said in the release. “This loss resonates across our Army and across our nation.”

This is the second deadly weather-related incident involving soldiers in Georgia in the past month. Last month, SFC Michael Clark, 41, died as a result of injuries after a lighting strike hit one of the training areas at Fort Gordon. Nine soldiers were injured during the incident July 20.