NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Crews are searching for two Americans and a Canadian missing after plane crashed off the coast of the Dominican Republic Monday night.
Two of the people on board, Chuck and Candy Ritzen, used to live and work in Nashville. Also missing is Canadian Benjamin Brown.
“Even though we found wreckage we haven’t found Chuck and Candy or their friend Mr. Brown and I know Chuck well enough to know he will go down fighting so I believe there is always hope and our prayers are always with them,” said Melody Snodgrass, who is a close friend.
Chuck and Candy Ritzen both were on board the plane that was returning from a stop in Haiti.
The three had just dropped off supplies to the country just hit by Hurricane Matthew and were almost back at their destination in the Dominican Republic when their plane crashed.
“Chuck had made it to Port Au Prince and was flying home and it was late and he was near Porta Plauta [in the Dominican Republic] he was about 5 miles away before the plane went down,” said Dr. David Snodgrass.
Search crews have found wreckage from the plane but the three passengers on board are still missing.
“Chuck and I were pulling teeth out of the back of a pickup truck and Chuck decided that was no way to do this so he decided to build a dental clinic,” said Dr. Snodgrass about Ritzen’s decision to build a practice in the Dominican Republic.
The missing trio was on a mission, flying food, water, tarps and anything else that could help the people of Haiti.
It was a trip Ritzen and his wife had taken multiple times.
Melody and David Snodgrass have worked with the Ritzen’s on similar trips and are close friends.
“He is a very successful businessman here in Nashville and went to the Dominican Republic primarily to give back to the Dominican People and the Hattian people,” said Dr. Snodgrass.
According to the local media in the Dominican Republic, during the flight there was a storm and heavy downpours while the plane was approaching the airport.
The Dominican Air Force has recovered part of the plane’s fuselage but the three people on board are still missing.