(Cleveland)- Two soldiers from Fort Benning have died after a weather-related incident Tuesday on Yonah Mountain in White County. The two were among five soldiers who were severely injured when part of a tree fell on top of them while they were training on the mountain.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Army said the two soldiers, whose names have not yet been released, were part of the training program at the Maneuver Center of Excellence.
Three other service members were also injured. All were treated by Army medics before being transported to an area hospital. According to Fort Benning’s Public Affairs Office, the surviving service members remain hospitalized.
The incident happened around 3:30 p.m. as a severe thunderstorm swept through northern White County. County fire chief Mike Lefevre said when he arrived at the top of the mountain “it was pretty much mass confusion at that point because there were so many people up there.”
Chief Lefevre says an apparent wind gust caused the tree top to fall. Army Med Units transported the soldiers off the mountain to awaiting White CountyEMS ambulances.
Don Strength, Georgia Emergency Management Agency/ Homeland Security Area 1 Field Coordinator was in White County assisting on another operation, and provided assistance with resources and coordination.
Strength said they were over at Mtn. Lakes Resort getting ready to conduct a search for a missing individual when this incident happened and they all responded. Strength said they couldn’t go into the woods at Mountian Lakes because of the storm and they watched a dark cloud move over Yonah Mountain.
White County EMS and fire department personnel from Helen and Cleveland also assisted.
The Army is withholding the soldiers’ names pending notification of next of kin.