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HGTV interior designer, husband killed in plane crash

Byron and Catherine Cocke died in a plane crash near Savannah the morning of Monday, Aug. 28, 2017. Byron was a notable metro Atlanta real estate developer. Catherine was an interior designer featured on HGTV.

A prominent metro Atlanta real estate developer and his wife, an interior designer who was featured on HGTV, were the two passengers on a plane that crashed near Savannah, Georgia, on Monday, officials confirmed.

Byron Cocke, 42, and Catherine Cocke, 39, died when the plane crashed in a “very heavily wooded area” about 150 feet from the Ogeechee River, said Clint Hodges, Effingham County director of emergency management.

The plane was heading to Atlanta Regional Airport-Falcon Field in Peachtree City, Hodges said.


He confirmed that the husband is the co-founder and co-CEO of CF Real Estate, a company that formed from a 2013 merger between Cocke Finkelstein, Inc., and Atlanta-based Lane Company, according to its website.

CF Real Estate has properties as far north as Michigan, but is responsible for several metro Atlanta housing projects, including The Lofts at Atlantic Station and Olmsted Chamblee, which features a big sign of the city's name.

Hodges was unsure whether the couple was flying for business from Savannah, where the company has a student-centric apartment complex named The Hue.

A spokeswoman with CF Real Estate was not immediately available for comment Tuesday.

The Savannah Downtown Neighborhood Association posted a statement about the couple's death on its website. The statement said one member of the couple was part of the association's board but didn't say which.

“The Savannah community has lost a shining light in this beautiful couple and while our hearts are heavy, we ask for prayers for their surviving five children.”

The website for the wife's interior design business said she was featured on a 2011 episode of HGTV's "My Big Amazing Renovation," titled "Going Big in Georgia" showing her 18-month renovation of the couple's 1950s home.

Authorities have not released a cause of the crash.

Hodges said Tuesday that the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board would start their investigations that morning.

A Chatham County Mosquito Control helicopter found the downed Beechcraft Bonanza, a fixed-wing single-engine aircraft built in 1994, about 11:20 a.m. on Monday -- nearly two hours after being notified that it had crashed.

The plane is registered to a resident of Tyrone, Georgia, according to FAA records. Officials were still working to notify the pilot’s next of kin and had not identified him on Tuesday.

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