Families Plead for Help After 2 Teachers Vanish in Panama Plane Crash

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Local families are issuing an emotional appeal for help after two retired teachers were lost after the small plane they were traveling in went down just off the coast of Panama.

After the crash, there’s a desperate search to help find the two teachers, and to bring them back to the United States.

Debra Velleman, who hails from Waukesha, Wisconsin, and Sue Borries from Teutopolis, Illinois, were in a plane with three other people when it went down on Jan. 3.

Those other three individuals survived the crash, but neither Velleman nor Borries has been found.

Jake Velleman, Debra’s son, is in Panama, and is trying to spread the word about his mother’s disappearance.

“We have not had the chance to grieve yet, because we are still dealing with this nightmare,” he said.

The Panamanian government has searched for the wreckage, but has not been able to locate it. Now, they are asking the United States for help, including personnel and equipment, to aid in the search.

Jake says that help may not be coming.

“All I have is an email from the embassy I got earlier today that said that an official request has been submitted, (but) they don’t have assets available,” he said. “That is obviously incredibly frustrating and disheartening for our two families to hear.”

For now, Jake is aiming to get the word out about the crash, and to corral the resources to help find his mother.

“We’re really asking for help from whomever we can get it from, and to get what we need down here,” he said. “Anyone who knows my mom and Sue, knows that they were really wonderful people, and our families just want to bring them home.”

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