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Canadian humanitarian worker missing after small plane crash in Dominican Republic

A Canadian humanitarian who helped facilitate a Penticton elementary school class’ ‘random acts of kindness’ school project is one of three people who were on board a plane that crashed off the coast of the Dominican Republic after delivering aid in Haiti.

Humanitarian organization Live Different, which is based in Hamilton, says long-time employee Benjamin Cole Brown was on board the aircraft with Americans Chuck and Candy Ritzen at the time of the crash.

The three were returning from Haiti where they had delivered donations and other aid to help local residents rebuild from Hurricane Mathew.

Brown, 36, had lived overseas for nearly a decade managing programs for the Canadian charity Live Different in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

In May of 2015, Brown accepted and helped deliver handmade pencil cases made by students at Columbia Elementary School to hundreds of students at a school in the northern Haitian city of Cap-Haïtien.

Live Different spokeswoman Jennifer Digiandomenico says organization staff are at the crash site awaiting word on the search for survivors.

She says employees are holding out hope that the man, who many refer to simply as Cole, is still alive.

“We love Cole so much,” she said in a telephone interview.

“He is a big part of the Live Different family, which extends all across Canada and the Dominican Republic and Haiti. We have received so many phone calls and emails from people in all three countries who are still praying and thinking of Cole.”

Digiandomenico said Brown boarded the personal plane with Chuck and Candy Ritzen, an American couple also involved in the humanitarian aid field, on Monday night as the three prepared to return to the Dominican Republic.

The plane, she said, was Chuck Ritzen’s personal aircraft that was frequently used for travel between the two countries.

A spokesman for Global Affairs Canada said they were informed that a Canadian citizen was missing off the coast of the Dominican Republic.

“Debris from a small aircraft has been recovered near Puerto Plata and consular officials at the Consulate of Canada in Puerto Plata Consular are in contact with local authorities to gather additional information,” Austin Jean wrote in an email to The Canadian Press.

He said consular officials are providing assistance to the family.

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Oct 20, 2016

Category: DR News |

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Last updated January 21, 2018 at 12:31 AM
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