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Two Oregon City men died from an explosion inside a World War II-era tank destroyer Tuesday at a public shooting range in Central Oregon.


Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson identified the men as Steven Preston, 51, and Austin Lee, 22. Preston and Lee died from their injuries after Bend Fire Department paramedics arrived and attempted lifesaving efforts, Nelson said in a Wednesday morning press release.

Preston was chairman for the annual convention of the Military Vehicle Preservation Association, a national group for restoring and collecting historic military ground transport, according to The Bend Bulletin.

As the explosion went off in Preston's 1944 M18 Hellcat Tank Destroyer, a film crew was filming the tank firing rounds “as part of a display of the tank destroyer at a future exhibit,” Nelson wrote.

"This is a tragic day — two families lost loved ones, and our hearts and prayers go out to them," he added.

The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office is continuing its investigation into the explosion assisted by the Oregon State Police Arson and Explosives Section, as well as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

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