Two U.S. victims of Belize plane crash identified as Florida newlyweds

Two U.S. citizens killed when a small plane crashed in Belize amid bad weather caused by Tropical Storm Gamma were Florida newlyweds on their honeymoon, their relatives confirmed on Monday.

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 Cristy Dy Scratchley of St. Petersburg, Florida, according to the man's father, Douglas Scratchley Sr. of Fort Myers, 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, but said heavy winds and rains from Gamma were a factor.

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

The couple were married Nov. 12 in St. Petersburg, said David May of Sacramento, Douglas Scratchley's stepfather.

"It hit all of us like a sledgehammer," May said of the crash. "The kids were so happy. ... They were wonderful. You just can't imagine going from a beautiful moment to it's all over. It's a tragedy all the way around."

Scratchley was an electrical design engineer for a Honeywell International aerospace plant in Clearwater, Florida, and had been with the company since 1997, company spokesman Bill Reavis said. He had been working on space and defense-related projects, AP reported. V.A.

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