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.