By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
AUTHORITIES have ruled out an area of debris near Cat Island which they thought could be remnants of the plane carrying missing American honeymooners Forrest and Donna Sanco.
Search and rescue documents obtained by The Tribune yesterday indicate debris and a life raft spotted on the eastern side of Cat Island is now “not believed” to be associated with the Sanco investigation. Authorities are working to determine what exactly happened to Forrest and Donna Sanco while en route to Rum Cay on September 26, one day after the pair flew their private aircraft from Houston, Texas; through Florida and then Freeport, Grand Bahama where the couple reportedly cleared customs and spent the night.
Bahamas Air and Sea Rescue Association (BASRA) Operations Manager Chris Lloyd on Tuesday confirmed that Mr Sanco officially closed his flight plan at 4:58pm on September 26, signalling to air traffic controllers that he was nearing his destination.
However, according to his family members and caretakers in Rum Cay, the pair never arrived. The Sanco couple were renting a holiday home from Pat and Earl Lambert.
No reports were made about the missing couple until Friday, October 6 – roughly 10 days after the couple was originally scheduled to turn up.
The Tribune understands it was at this time reports of the missing couple were disseminated to the United States Coast Guard and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF).
United States Coast Guard has stressed the RBDF is leading all efforts on the matter.
Forrest Sanco’s niece, 23-year-old LeeAnn Burger initially tried to raise $10,000 through a Go Fund Me campaign to hire private crews and pilots to find the couple. That target was passed in just a few days and has so far brought in more than $12,000.
On the gofundme site last night LeeAnn said: “ Due to lack of resources with the Bahamian government and coast guard we have been forced to hire our own private search crews and pilots. This has been costly and could continue to be as we need to search until we find something.
“Everything we raise will go to our efforts to bring them home whatever it takes! Whether it be continuing to hire private crews, medical expenses, or costs involved in trying to get them back home to us.
“If there are any funds left over at the conclusion the funds will be split between a fund for Forrest’s daughter Riley and a donation to the Maritime Search and Rescue fund in the hopes no other family will have to bear this burden.”
Meanwhile the search for the Sancos continues.