Son of missing Illinois woman asks feds to help find her

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Brandon Borries’ mother has been missing since she was involved in a plane crash on January 3 off the coast of Panama.

Sue Borries, 57, and Debra Velleman, 70 – both retired American teachers – have been missing since traveling from a bed and breakfast on an island off the coast of Panama to the mainland on a plane that experienced engine failure and crashed.

Anthony Velleman, husband of Debra Velleman, survived the crash, along with the pilot and another passenger. Sue’s husband and Brandon’s father, Dennis Borries, had managed to return to the mainland on the same plane which later crashed with his wife inside. Now the Velleman and Borries families are asking the US government to help locate the two women.

Borries and Vellemans (Credit: BringHomeDebraAndSue.com)

“It’s becoming pretty clear by their inaction that we’re not going to get any help from them,” Borries told Fox News.

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Both sides have asked the US Departments of State and Defense to allow them to “bring in a third party” to assist in the search and dive process. Borries says they need the US government to greenlight a third-party research effort before they can do so. The Panamanian government has already agreed to participate in the effort.

“They’re not willing to give us the resources, or at least they seem to be,” Borries said.

Deb BorriesBrandon Borries

Deb BorriesBrandon Borries

Borries says the third-party investigative teams that are often used by insurance companies to perform the search and recovery process using sonar technology “have made it clear” that without U.S. government approval and Panamanian, the process of locating his mother and Deb Velleman will be “very difficult and … can be very expensive for the families concerned”.

A State Department spokesperson told Fox News that “the department has no higher priority than the well-being and safety of American citizens abroad. We are aware of the situation and are providing consular assistance”.

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“At this point, we can confirm that four US citizens were on board a plane that crashed into the ocean near Chame on January 3. Two have been found and received consular assistance,” the official said. spokesperson. “We appreciate the cooperation of the Panamanian authorities in the search and rescue operations to find the two missing persons.”

The spokesperson added that the Department had no further updates due to confidentiality considerations.

Dennis and Deb Borries with their children and grandchildren (Brandon Borries)

Dennis and Deb Borries with their children and grandchildren (Brandon Borries)

The Borries family are originally from Illinois and have also contacted various state and US representatives and senators for assistance. Borries specifically named Illinois Representatives Mary Miller and Rodney Davis, as well as Senator Dick Durbin and Indiana Senator Todd Young as some of the politicians he asked for help.

The Velleman family, of Wisconsin, contacted their state representatives, as well as Senator Tammy Baldwin and Representative Scott Fitzgerald, according to ABC7 Los Angeles.

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Baldwin’s office told ABC 7 that the State Department, “through its embassy in Panama, is working in close coordination with the National Transportation Safety Board and the USCG to support the Panamanian search operation.” .

Borries added that the reps’ offices have been “more than willing to work with us and give us information,” but none have “really been able to move the needle to the State Department side, that’s where than [the] the heist is.”

Deb BorriesBrandon Borries

Deb BorriesBrandon Borries

“There’s no question where the holdup is. It’s on the State Department’s side,” he said.

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While waiting for answers, the Borries and Velleman families experienced a sense of frustration due to a lack of urgency on the part of the American government.

“There really is an urgency to this. It needs to happen as soon as possible. It’s not something that can last forever in our minds, and…the family, at this point, is holding back any kind of memorial because we I don’t have my mother’s body, our mother’s remains,” Borries said. “And so for us, on a personal level, it’s very devastating [that] our government won’t come to our aid for an American citizen…because of a bunch of red tape.”

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