Backroads Speaks Out About Costa Rica Plane Crash

The burnt wreckage of a Nature Air plane is seen in a wooded area in Corozalito de Nandayure, near Punta Islita, Guanacaste province, Costa Rica. // Photo by AP Photo/Berny Araya via Newscred

Backroads, the California-based tour operator that lost nine clients and one employee in Sunday’s deadly Costa Rica plane crash, recently addressed the tragedy in an official statement. 

Travel Agent was also able to obtain an exclusive statement from KC Hoppe, Backroads’ director of travel industry partnerships.

“I have personally received dozens of emails and texts from our travel advisor partners and industry friends expressing their concern and offering condolences to Backroads,” Hoppe told Travel Agent. “It’s very comforting and a testament to the goodwill and strength of our agent community. I feel proud to be a part of it.”

According to several media outlets, a total of 12 people were killed in the crash, including Backroads’ tour group leader, Amanda Geissler.

“Amanda was a first-year Trip Leader at Backroads, but despite her short tenure she built strong bonds and community among both fellow leaders and guests alike,” according to the official Backroads statement. “As one of our guests offered, ‘Amanda’s spirit and energy were simply refreshing.’ Amanda’s passion and ability to genuinely connect with people, in addition to her leadership, made her a rising star at Backroads.”

Also onboard the plane were nine clients and two pilots. The guests included a family from Florida and a family from New York. According to the New York Times, the guests were the Steinbergs, a family of five from Scarsdale, NY, and the Weisses, a family of four from Belleair, FL. Two pilots killed were both residents of Costa Rica, according to an ABC report. 

“Backroads has been running active travel adventures in Costa Rica for more than 25 years,” according to the company’s statement. “We are extremely heartbroken over this horrific loss of life and are working with the local authorities to understand the cause of the crash. We have our entire Costa Rica team and a member of our executive team on the ground to assist in this tragedy.”

The tragedy occurred when a Nature Air flight traveling from Punta Islita to San Jose, Costa Rica, crashed in the Guanacaste Mountains, according to the Backroads statement.  

“Overall, we have received hundreds of messages and comments on social media from past Backroads guests, industry partners and friends offering their kind words and thoughts, prayers and support,” says Hoppe. “This outpouring of support is very heartwarming as we are devastated and heartbroken here. Backroads is a tight knit family and we are all grieving this tremendous loss.”

The Full Backroads Statement

The following statement was issued by Liz Einbinder, spokeswoman for Backroads:

"On Sunday afternoon, December 31, we experienced an unimaginable tragedy when a Nature Air flight traveling from Punta Islita to San Jose, Costa Rica, crashed in the Guanacaste Mountains. Officials in Costa Rica have confirmed that there are no survivors. Aboard the flight were nine Backroads guests, Backroads Trip Leader Amanda Geissler and two flight crew members. A second Nature Air flight carrying Backroads guests and another Trip Leader arrived safely in San Jose.

Backroads has been running active travel adventures in Costa Rica for more than 25 years. We are extremely heartbroken over this horrific loss of life and are working with the local authorities to understand the cause of the crash. We have our entire Costa Rica team and a member of our executive team on the ground to assist in this tragedy.

Amanda was a first-year Trip Leader at Backroads, but despite her short tenure she built strong bonds and community among both fellow leaders and guests alike. As one of our guests offered, 'Amanda’s spirit and energy were simply refreshing.' Amanda’s passion and ability to genuinely connect with people, in addition to her leadership, made her a rising star at Backroads. Our leaders have been reaching out to us today from across the globe to offer condolences and offers of support for Amanda’s family. We are all deeply saddened at this tragic loss.

In the midst of this heartbreaking news, our thoughts and prayers are with the families impacted by this tragedy. We will release more details as officials confirm them."

Visit www.backroads.com and keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for all your latest travel news. Be sure to follow Travel Agent’s Joe Pike on Twitter @TravelPike and Instagram @pike5260.

Related Stories

Travelers Explore Costa Rica on Natural Wonders Tour With Globus

Dubai, Costa Rica and Iceland Top Americans’ Travel Bucket List

The Cool Pool of the Week: Villa Buena Onda in Costa Rica

Western River Expeditions Adds Customizable Costa Rica Tours