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#20080 - 11/22/05 03:49 AM Two U.S. victims of Belize plane crash identified as Florida newlyweds
Marty Offline
3:18 p.m. November 21, 2005

BELIZE CITY – Relatives confirmed the identities on Monday of two U.S. citizens who died in a small plane crash in Belize in which bad weather caused by Tropical Storm Gamma was thought to have played a role.

The Friday crash killed the Belizean pilot, Rene Ram, and two passengers aboard a private plane belonging to Blancaneaux Lodge, an exclusive jungle resort owned by U.S. filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola.

The Americans were identified as newlyweds Douglas Scratchley Jr. and Christy Dy Scratchley of St. Petersburg, Florida, according to the man's father, Douglas Scratchley Sr. of Fort Meyers, Florida. U.S. officials in Belize confirmed those identifications.

"They were on their honeymoon," the elder Scratchley said by telephone. "They had planned this whole trip and whatever the resort they were going to was having a big party for them Friday evening."

"They got on a small plane," he said. "I got a phone call Friday night that the plane had gone down. They called Saturday afternoon and confirmed that ... they didn't have any survivors."

The couple's bodies were transferred to Belize City, the nation's capital.

The aircraft disappeared Friday, last making radio contact with air controllers 10 minutes into its 35-minute flight to the Blancaneaux Lodge near the western border with Guatemala.

Civil aviation authorities were trying to determine the cause of the crash – which saw the plane fall into a ravine near another exclusive ranch – but said heavy winds and rains from Gamma were a factor.

Gamma, the 24th named storm of an already record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season, weakened into a tropical depression off the coast of Honduras after killing 11 people in this country and three in nearby Belize.

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#20081 - 11/22/05 03:53 AM Re: Two U.S. victims of Belize plane crash identified as Florida newlyweds
casa de amor Offline
so very sad,RIP

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#20082 - 11/22/05 03:57 AM Re: Two U.S. victims of Belize plane crash identified as Florida newlyweds
Marty Offline

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#20083 - 11/22/05 09:43 AM Re: Two U.S. victims of Belize plane crash identified as Florida newlyweds
Marty Offline
Wreckage of plane found – pilot, couple killed
It was like a scene from a tragic movie: two people on their honeymoon when their plane crashes into a mountainside killing them and their pilot. The search immediately began but bad weather and jungle coverage hampered efforts to recover the aircraft and the bodies. But this sad story is not from a movie and we cannot rewrite the terrible ending. All we can do now is try to find out exactly what happened to a private plane that crashed into a mountain on Friday, killing a Belizean man and two guests to our country. Karla Heusner was at the Philip Goldson International Airport this morning for a press briefing on the official investigation.

Karla Heusner, Reporting
Belizean Rene Tam, pilot of the twin engine Islander belonging to Blancaneaux Lodge picked up Doug and Cristy Scratchley at the P.G.I.A. on Saturday morning. They had just come in from Ambergris Caye where they spent a few days at Victoria House. The happy young couple was on their honeymoon, married only a few days ago in St. Petersburg, Florida.

According to Civil Aviation authorities, the first part of their thirty-five minute journey to the Privacion airstrip near Blancaneaux was uneventful. Tam’s last radio contact was made at 10:16 a.m. near La Democracia. According to authorities who heard the tape, it was a routine position report made on the common frequency used by all pilots as they leave the air traffic control space around the P.G.I.A. Around 12:50 p.m., a report came into the control tower that the plane never arrived at its destination. Despite the increasing bad weather from Gamma, a search was immediately launched. On Saturday afternoon the wreck was located, just three miles from Blancaneaux on the property of Hidden Valley Falls Inn by a volunteer search party from the inn. Today details of the crash are still sketchy.

Jose Contreras, Director Civil Aviation
”The exact time when it went down we cannot determine. We understand that they heard the aircraft circling very low over Unitedville and also the persons that worked in the area of the resort also heard the aircraft flying very low.”

Francis Lizama, Flight Operations Manager
”The general area we are talking about is very hilly. We are fifteen feet above sea level here at the airport. The elevation at that point would be between fifteen and two thousand feet elevation. So the terrain is very high and it’s not the normal type of terrain you would fly flying at flat elevations.”

And While Director Contreras says the Civil Aviation Authority can put limits on arrivals and departures from the international airport, the rest of the trip is outside their control.

Jose Contreras
”The pilot looking at the weather conditions, it will be his decision to fly into that condition. We will regulate the—when we say regulate, we will put limitations toward departure and arrival of aircraft at the Philip Goldson International Airport because that’s a controlled air ground. The weather, a destination en route, or alternate air grounds is the responsibility of the pilot to make sure that the weather at that destination is suitable so that an aircraft can make a safe landing.”

“The small craft warning is not applicable to aircraft... The visibility at this airport was more than ten kilometres. The visibility at the destination airport, we cannot say.”

According to Francis Lizama who heads Flight Operations, pilots often have to make difficult choices when faced with adverse conditions.

Francis Lizama
”Sometimes in those conditions, visibility is very, very poor. You sometimes lose land mass, land area, and most of the time pilots who penetrate the area get into that location or simply return back to their normal base that they came from.”

Civil Aviation authorities say their investigation could take weeks, if not months to complete. All aspects will be examined, from weather conditions to mechanical difficulties to possible pilot error. Karla Heusner reporting for News Five.

Director Contreras says Tam had over nine thousand hours flying experience and obtained his license from the Federal Aviation Authority in the U.S. in 1991. Up until six months ago he was chief pilot for Maya Island Air before taking up the job at Blancaneaux Lodge. He leaves behind his wife, Jackie, and four children. An autopsy was performed on the bodies of Doug and Christy Scratchley this afternoon which showed that Christy died instantly of multiple injuries. Her husband Doug, however, did not display any major internal injuries and instead bled to death from a deep laceration in his right leg. Both were seated in the rear of the plane. Doug's step-father David May told News Five the couple had a beautiful wedding and were enjoying their stay in Belize very much. He says he and his wife may come to Belize in a few months, when they feel up to it, to lay a wreath at the crash site.

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#20084 - 11/29/05 05:06 PM Re: Two U.S. victims of Belize plane crash identified as Florida newlyweds
tweedybear Offline
It's a good thing my hubby doesn't read the forums for if he saw this - it would be "austa la vista baby as Roberto Tombo said at the Olympics one year, a famous skiier - translation meaning no way jose would I get on those small planes. He's redoing our trust - doesn't trust these small planes. What a tragedy for the newly weds. I feel for their families.
_________________________
Fish never hold their breath - Cheers to the Fish!

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#20085 - 11/29/05 09:40 PM Re: Two U.S. victims of Belize plane crash identified as Florida newlyweds
Kristykins Offline
i shouldn't have read this 4 days before hopping on planes.

i'm already mortified.


I just cannot even fathom...those poor people.
horrible, horrible trajedy. frown frown frown
_________________________
"If you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn't lead anywhere"

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#20086 - 11/29/05 09:51 PM Re: Two U.S. victims of Belize plane crash identified as Florida newlyweds
gogo Offline
you are more likely to die in a car crash, at home or in another country.

do what you have to do.

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#20087 - 11/29/05 09:52 PM Re: Two U.S. victims of Belize plane crash identified as Florida newlyweds
SimonB Offline
When you consider the thousands of miles flown in this country every year and hundreds of flights every month, Belize has a fantastic record when it comes to flight safety. I wouldn't miss the opportunity to be up in the air here, it's the only way to fly (so to speak.)

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#20088 - 11/29/05 09:58 PM Re: Two U.S. victims of Belize plane crash identified as Florida newlyweds
Kristykins Offline
i know i know. everyone always says the same thing, but you know...I'd much rather go in a car crash then nosedive into the earth at a high rate of speed.

but hey, that's just me wink

I guess when all is said and done you have no control anyway, but I havn't flown in years, and I'm definetly a little nervous. [okay terrified, but whatever]
_________________________
"If you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn't lead anywhere"

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#20089 - 11/29/05 09:58 PM Re: Two U.S. victims of Belize plane crash identified as Florida newlyweds
Kristykins Offline
and on that note..are the little Maya Air flights from the airport to SP safe little things?
_________________________
"If you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn't lead anywhere"

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