US denies request to help find 2 Americans missing after Panama plane crash

The plane crash occurred on Jan. 3 off the coast of Panama.

Two American ladies stay missing greater than per week after their plane crashed off the coast of Panama, as their households plead with the United States authorities for help within the restoration effort.

Debra Ann Velleman, 70, of Waukesha, Wisconsin, and Sue Borries, 57, of Teutopolis, Illinois, each retired public college academics, have been a part of a neighborhood of snowbirds and expats dwelling within the space of Chame, Panama.

The two associates have been touring with their husbands again to Chame after spending New Year’s Eve weekend at a mattress and breakfast on the Panamanian island Isla Contadora on Jan. 3 when the crash occurred. The small plane, piloted by the proprietor of the mattress and breakfast, suffered an engine failure and crashed off the coast of Chame, in accordance to family and friends.

Their husbands, Anthony Velleman and Dennis Borries, in addition to the pilot have been rescued by Panamanian search and rescue groups, although the ladies have but to be discovered regardless of continued search efforts, in accordance to Albert Lewitinn, a consultant for the Velleman household. The ladies are believed to be within the unrecovered plane wreckage, he mentioned.

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The Panamanian authorities had requested that the U.S. deploy property together with Navy salvage divers and sonar to help within the search effort and find the wreckage, however the request was denied this week due to an absence of property and jurisdiction, in accordance to a household assertion.

The households are persevering with to “implore” the U.S. authorities to ship tools and personnel to help within the search and restoration effort.

“The solely acceptable end result is that our family members are discovered and recovered in order that our households can start the lengthy and tough grieving course of,” the Borries and Velleman households mentioned in a press release. “Until our family members are recovered and introduced house, that can’t happen. It is the United States authorities’s responsibility to present a lot wanted help in engaging in this.”

ABC News has reached out to the U.S. Embassy in Panama for remark.

The Velleman household has been in contact with two of their Wisconsin representatives, Sen. Tammy Baldwin and Rep. Scott Fitzgerald, as they search help within the search and restoration effort.

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Baldwin’s workplace informed ABC News it has contacted the Embassy and the State Department “to share our concern that Ms. Vellemen has not but been positioned.” The workplace mentioned it has additionally contacted the U.S. Coast Guard and the Department of Defense “to urge them to deploy and use any assets which may be accessible to help within the search effort.”

According to Baldwin’s workplace, the U.S. Coast Guard has offered Panamanian authorities with technical modeling to help the seek for the plane.

“The Department of State, by means of its Embassy in Panama City, is working in shut coordination with the National Transportation Safety Board and USCG to help the Panamanian search operation,” Baldwin’s workplace mentioned. “The U.S. Embassy can be sustaining contact with the households of these missing and the Panamanian authorities all through this response.”

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A spokesperson for Fitzgerald’s workplace informed ABC News it can not touch upon ongoing casework.

The surviving passengers proceed to recuperate following the crash. Anthony Velleman will journey by air ambulance again to Wisconsin after having spinal surgical procedure in Panama and “will want months of intensive medical care,” Lewitinn mentioned.

Meanwhile, the Vellemans’ two sons are on the lookout for closure.

“It’s been per week, and they’re American residents,” Josh Velleman informed ABC Milwaukee affiliate WISN from Panama. “I consider the U.S. ought to do the correct factor, deliver these Americans house the place they belong.”

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