Plane crash victim remembered in celebration of life


Grants Pass, Ore. –Six-hundred People gathered Sunday morning to remember the life of Ryan Merker.

The 17-year-old died in a plane crash off the coast of Brookings nearly three weeks ago. On Sunday, the community came out in force to support the Merker family, and share their favorite memories with Ryan.

“I didn’t know how many people’s lives he touched,” Darren Merker said, Ryan’s Father. “He had a zest for life, he loved his parents, he loved his brothers, he loved his girlfriend.”

Merker describes his son as constantly looking for the next adventure.

“He was always wanting to do something fun,” Merker said. “When he called me on Fourth of July, he was at the beach all day, watched fireworks all night, and his next fun was to get in an airplane and go flying.”

That adventure was his last. The plane, flown by pilot John Belnap, crashed into the ocean. Belnap’s son Max was also on board. Search crews located the plane wreckage last week, just north of Brookings in the Pacific. Two bodies have been recovered, but they have not been identified.

“I would like to take this opportunity at this time to thank the recovery efforts of finding the plane and our three loved ones, because that’s going to bring some closure.”

Closure, and a reminder to all to live life to the fullest.

“Life can be short, no one is guaranteed how long we’re going to be here on this earth, and to make the most of it sooner than later, because you just don’t know,” Merker said.

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