Two Americans Killed in Plane Crash Blamed on Tropical Storm Gamma

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An American couple killed in a plane crash in Belize blamed on Tropical Storm Gamma's heavy rain and winds were newlyweds on their honeymoon, relatives said Monday.

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

The Americans were identified as Douglas Scratchley Jr. and his wife Cristy Dy Scratchley of St. Petersburg, Fla., according to the man's family and U.S. officials in Belize, a nation south of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.

"They were on their honeymoon," the man's father, Douglas Scratchley Sr., said by telephone from Florida. "They had planned this whole trip, and whatever the resort they were going to was having a big party for them Friday evening."

Civil aviation authorities in Belize said heavy winds and rains from Gamma were a factor in the crash — which saw the plane fall into a ravine near another exclusive ranch.

The couple were married Nov. 12 in St. Petersburg, said David May of Sacramento, Calif., Douglas Scratchley's stepfather. Douglas Scratchley graduated in 1987 from Encina High School in Sacramento.

"The kids were so happy," May said. "It's a tragedy all the way around."

He said the family had been in touch with authorities in Belize, who described the plane as a twin-engine, 10-seat aircraft named "Sofia," after Coppola's daughter, the director of "Lost in Translation."

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