A Texas couple who took their private plane to go on a trip of a lifetime in the Bahamas — where they also planned to elope — have now been missing for over two weeks.
On Sept. 26, Forrest Sanco and Donna Grant of Fort Worth, Texas, took off from Fort Pierce, Florida, and landed in Freeport, Bahamas, but they never made it to their final destination in Rum Cay, where they had rented a house and planned to tie the knot.
The couple, both 56, who went to high school together, reconnected a year ago on Facebook and instantly knew they were meant to be.
“They had a whirlwind romance,” Sanco’s neice, Lee-Ann Burger, 23, tells PEOPLE. “He told us that he knew she was the one after their first date.”
“In true Sanco fashion,” says Burger, he bought a Cessna 150, reinstated his pilot’s license and planned the trip. Because the trip was going to be a romantic adventure for the couple, their families didn’t expect to hear from them often, which is why they didn’t expect anything was wrong until a week had gone by and they hadn’t heard from them.
“My husband got a call from Forrest’s friend asking if he had heard from him,” Burger says. “He was watching his cat and he hadn’t come to pick him up.”
It was then that they called Sanco’s employer who said he was supposed to return to work days ago. They knew something must be wrong, Burger recalls, but it was only when they found out that Sanco hadn’t talked to his 10-year-old daughter in several days that they began to panic.
His ex-wife, which whom he shares joint custody, told Burger that they assumed his silence was just because he was enjoying his vacation.
“I immediately went on social media and found a Facebook page for the Rum Cay community,” says Burger. “A guy named Craig responded and said it was his house they were renting but they never showed up.”
Craig, who also has a plane, discussed Sanco’s flight plan with him — which gave the family clues as to where they could be. Their last known location was in Freeport, Bahamas, and Sanco’s last post to Instagram was on Sept. 26.
“We found out they cleared customs in Freeport on the 26th and we were able to find fuel receipts in North Eleuthera,” she says, “but after that, we can’t track them anywhere.”
“We were able to find a couple local guys with airplanes who have basically been conducting searches for us,” says Burger, who says that due to lack of resources with the Bahamian government and coast guard, the family has had to hire their own private search crews and pilots.
Reports of the missing couple were disseminated to the United States Coast Guard and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF), according to Burger. United States Coast Guard has stressed the RBDF is leading all efforts on the matter, according to the Bahamas Tribune.
“We have been faced with nothing but resistance. It’s beyond frustrating,” Burger says.
The family has created a GoFundMe page to help with the steep costs. Although every lead has resulted in a dead end, they’re determined to continue the search.
“We’re trying to remain hopeful, but we’re also realistic,” says Burger. “I think at this point we’re searching for answers. The ideal situation would obviously be us finding them roasting marshmallows on a deserted island.”