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Local couple reportedly goes missing in Bahamas

Newlyweds Forrest and Donna Sanco had planned a week-long honeymoon in the Bahamas starting Sept. 25, but family members now say they never arrived at their destination on the island of Rum Cay.

LeeAnn Burger, Forrest Sanco's niece, recently created a GoFundMe page to raise money for the search effort. Another Facebook page has been created to get the word out about the couple. 

"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," Burger wrote on the page. "This has been costly and could continue to be as we need to search until we find something."

She wrote on the page that the couple's last recorded activity was on Sept. 26, when they stopped to get fuel in North Eleuthera, on the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas. 

The page has already accrued more than $4,800 of its $10,000 goal as of early Monday evening. Burger did not return messages for comment for this story.

Forrest Sanco had owned a home in Argyle for more than 11 years until he sold it last month, according to Denton Central Appraisal District records. He works at Lockheed Martin's Fort Worth office, company spokesman Ken Ross said, but his current address is unknown. 

According to The Tribune, a Bahamian newspaper based in Nassau, Part and Earl Lambert owned the home the couple rented in Rum Cay. Their son, Greg Lambert, manages the property, and he told the paper he helped Forrest Sanco navigate the area. 

"I told him how to get to Rum Cay, basically how to charter or fly," Lambert told the paper. "He told me that, at one time, he had been a pilot but had not flown for a number of years. He expressed an interest in flying down himself. He seemed to have some experience. He had purchased a plane and was going to get an instructor to give him lessons to bring him back up to speed." 

According to the Federal Aviation Administration registry, Sanco received a private pilot certificate on Aug. 22 and flew a single-engine 1966 Cessna to the islands. The plane is pictured in photos on the "Bring Forrest and Donna Home" Facebook page. 

Lambert told the paper the pair flew from Texas to Fort Pierce, Florida, "where most people flying to the Bahamas set off from," he said. 

He said Sanco had about $160 in repairs done to the aircraft in Fort Pierce and set off to Freeport, on the island of Grand Bahama, on Sept. 25. 

Lambert said he didn't hear back from him that day. 

"I started trying to contact him on the 26th to ask him what his plans were," he told The Tribune. "The phone was going straight to voicemail." 

Rum Cay resident Donna Vernon said she found out about the missing couple through a community Facebook page on Oct. 5. She said Burger messaged the Rum Cay Community page inquiring about her uncle.

The group, she said, has since been able to confirm the couple spent the night in Freeport and stopped in North Eleuthera to get fuel on Sept. 26. But they never showed up at the home in Rum Cay.  

Lambert told the paper that it's roughly a two-hour flight from North Eleuthera to Rum Cay. 

Jason Godwin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth, said an observation site in Nassau, located about 180 miles northwest of Rum Cay, showed scattered thunderstorm activity in the area on Sept. 26.  

He said those storms were not associated with Hurricane Maria, which had struck Puerto Rico less than a week before, but it was still dangerous flying conditions. 

"Just the typical afternoon thunderstorm can be quite dangerous for aviation," he said. 

JULIAN GILL can be reached at 940-566-6882. 

FEATURED PHOTO: Newlyweds Forrest and Donna Sanco were planning a honeymoon starting Sept. 25 on Rum Cay in the Bahamas, but friends and family said they never arrived at their destination. No one has heard from them since they landed in a small Cessna aircraft in North Eleuthera on Sept. 26.