LDS Father Killed in Plane Crash in Colombia

Contributed By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer

  • 5 December 2016

Adriano Bitencourt, far right, and his family at a recent LDS Church event in Brazil. Brother Bitencourt was killed in a November 28 plane crash in Colombia.  Photo from Facebook.

A Church member was among the 71 people killed in a November 28 plane crash on a hillside near Medellin, Colombia.

Adriano Wulff Bitencourt, 45, of the Chapeco Brazil Stake died in the charter flight that was traveling from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, to Medellin. The plane included several members of the Brazilian professional soccer club Chapecoense that was scheduled to play in the finals of the prestigious Copa Sudamericana soccer tournament in Colombia.

Three players, two crew members, and one journalist on the flight survived the crash. The tragedy remains under investigation, but the plane may have experienced a fuel problem, according to CNN news services.

Adriano Wulff Bitencourt, a member of the Church from Brazil, was killed in a November 28 plane crash near Medellin, Colombia. Photo from Facebook.

Brother Bitencourt was Chapecoense's security chief. He is the father of five children—Larissa, 19, Thiago, 17, Fernando, 14, Giovana, 9, and Matheus, 7.

“[My father] gave all to his family,” son Thiago told the Brazilian newspaper Pioneiro. “He was a warrior and a hero to the five of us. He will always be our example.”

Daughter Larissa told the newspaper her father's “approachable manner” earned him many admirers and friends. “He worked hard to overcome obstacles,” she said.

The tragedy prompted grief-stricken tributes in Brazil and across the international soccer community. More than 100,000 mourners gathered at the club's stadium in Chapeco, Brazil, on December 3 to pay respects to the players and club officials, including Brother Bitencourt. Other professional clubs across Europe honored the fallen with moments of silence prior to games.

Meanwhile, the Chapecoense club will be posthumously crowned the Copa Sudamericana champions.

Thousands gathered at a memorial service in Brazil to pay tribute to LDS Church member Adriano Bitencourt and the others lost in a November 28 plane crash in Colombia. Photo from Facebook.