Update – October 27th 2016

On behalf of Live Different and Cole’s family, we want to thank you for your patience during this tragic time. We want to make sure all updates give a clear picture of where things are at in the Dominican Republic and what the plans are moving forward.

As you can imagine, it has been an extremely tough week for the friends and family of Benjamin Cole Brown and Chuck and Candy Ritzen. At this time, given all collected data and search information, it is believed that the type of plane crash that Cole, Chuck, and Candy were involved in was not a survivable one, and that we will not see the kind of recovery we had all hoped for. This news is not easy to hear, we appreciate that and what it means for family, friends, and yourselves. As we move our focus toward honouring our friend the best way that we know how, please know that Benjamin’s dreams for the Dominican Republic and Haiti have not ended. It is upon us to make sure his tireless efforts were just the beginning of great things to come. Soon, we will have more news about how you can play a role in continuing that work and we thank you, once again, for your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. They’ve been overwhelming and truly sustaining.


“We have been so extremely busy this last week walking this very crushing nightmare! It is time now though, to announce that it is with heart breaking sadness that our beloved son Benjamin Cole Brown has very tragically lost his life in a plane crash in the Dominican Republic where he lived & loved so well!❤️ We are continuing to render the services of divers to search & hopefully locate the plane. Grant, myself & our family simply cannot THANK U ALL enough for your love & prayers that have been expressed in a thousand ways!! Everyone who knew Cole loved him.“
— Kathleen Brown, Cole’s Mother

Benjamin Cole Brown dedicated his life to the poor. Join us in carrying on his life’s work.

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**Update October 22nd 1:30pm EST

The past few days have taken a lot out of us, and we can’t imagine what Cole’s family is feeling. It has been admittedly difficult to know what to say to everyone. When the plane went down on Monday, the water was stirred up from the storm that day which makes visibility poor (less than 1 metre). It is starting to improve and should continue to over the next few days, which will make it much easier to spot the wreckage and enable recovery efforts. Thank you for your continued support and concern, especially for Cole’s family.

We also want to extend our gratitude to the Dominican Government for their efforts, and the communities that have been volunteering their time to search for their friend. As the recovery efforts continue, our hearts are also wrestling with how to best remember and honour Cole. We want to make sure that the projects and communities that he was so passionate about receive the same level of commitment and support that he gave them.


**Update October 19th 7:00pm EST
We want to express our heartfelt appreciation for all the thoughts and prayers for Cole and his wellbeing. Many of you will be seeing more and more articles and reports being made as the hours pass, and although there are no new developments to relay at this time, please know that search and rescue operations continue to look for Cole, Chuck, and Candy.


**Original Post Oct 18th 2016

Our hearts are heavy this evening as we wait for more news regarding an incident in the Dominican Republic. At this point, we do know that a private plane, carrying Benjamin Cole Brown and two American friends (Chuck and Candy Ritzen), lost radio contact 6km off the coast of Puerto Plata on a return flight from Haiti Monday evening. Debris from the plane has been found and authorities are currently conducting search and rescue operations. We have staff on the ground keeping us as informed as possible. Your thoughts and prayers for all involved, especially the families, are appreciated.

Join the discussion 15 Comments

  • Luiza says:

    This upsetting news arrived in YYZ and Westjetters are praying for Cole.

    • Sylvia says:

      WestJet has gone above and beyond for his parents, who are very good friends of mine. We are truly touched by the compassion and generosity shown to them by WestJet. Thank you.

  • Mark Bang says:

    I have not have the privilege of being part of the live different family but I met Cole while I volunteered with the other two people in the plane and I can not express how much I know that he meant to the communities he helped in the Dominican and in Haiti. My prayers are for all who he has touched

  • Vickie Friesen says:

    Sending love and prayers to the Live Different Team and families of those involved.

  • Matt Caillier says:

    I had the pleasure of meeting Cole during the 2015 Big Brother Big Sister build and I was inspired by his passion and willingness to make the world a better place. I have taken what he told our group to heart and will continue to live my life trying to do better for those around me.

  • Jim & Leslie Ann Lobban says:

    We only met Cole on a couple of occasions in the DR but in that short time we were honoured to meet a truly caring, altruistic individual; however briefly. We know that the same can be said of the other souls fate has taken with him. Our thoughts are with the families and friends. ❤️

  • Amanda Gushue says:

    Thoughts and prayers are with you all. Xoxo

  • Carol Goddard says:

    My thoughts are with Cole’s family – both familial and those family-by-choice – as you struggle, personally, to understand and cope with this huge loss, while working under these circumstances to carry our the work Cole valued, loved and championed. I got to know Cole while on the Big Brothers Big Sisters build just a year ago and was impressed by his passion – I can only imagine the pain of those wonderful folks who worked with him as part of the large, caring Live Different family.

  • Roman says:

    Let’s remain strong and filled with the comfort that our dear friend is with God. He was with God while he walked among us. Now he is enjoying the reward of a life devoted to his God and gods people. He personified a life lived like Jesus. The only person I’ve ever known to live this way. Thank you brother for everything you gave.

  • Laura Dyer says:

    My thoughts and prayers are with the Live Different and Brown family at this time. I had the pleasure of meeting and working alongside Cole on my WestJet Hero Holiday in 2013. He was an inspiration and an incredibly kind-hearted man. I am praying for their safe return xo

  • Angie Higgs says:

    Words cannot adequately express – thoughts and prayers to all. <3 <3 <3

  • Rebecca Wong says:

    Thoughts and prayers are with everyone there. I had the privilege of working with the Live Different team two years ago and I continue to admire and support all you do. Xoxo

  • Shannon Marowitch says:

    I had the opportunity to meet Cole at a Boston Pizza conference and he made such an impact. It is such a tragedy to think he will not be apart of this world any longer. Very sad…

  • Amanda Hunsinger says:

    I’m sorry to say I didn’t know the amazing work Cole has been doing until now. I met Cole the first day of grade 9. I knew him as a quiet, kind and very good looking guy. I’m glad he found a life so fulfilling. Live Different came to the high school where I teach and although I didn’t get a chance to see the presentation, students are still talking about it and we’re inspired.

  • Conner Gross says:

    This news was indeed hard to hear. Cole was such an amazing cousin and very caring person. He was the kind of guy who would always try and do the right thing even if it put him at risk. I for one am going to help continue his work. Hopefully others will follow.

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