German business owner behind Gold’s Gym among 6 feared dead in small plane crash off Costa Rica

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — Six people, including what appears to be the German businessman behind Gold’s Gym, were feared dead on Saturday after a small plane crashed into the Caribbean Sea just off the coast of Costa Rica.

All five passengers are believed to be German citizens, said Security Minister Jorge Torres. The pilot of the plane was Swiss. At least one other person on board the plane appeared to be a relative of Schaller’s.

Costa Rican authorities said parts of the twin-engine turboprop plane were found in the water on Saturday after the plane went missing on Friday.

A flight schedule of the small charter plane lists Rainer Schaller as a passenger. A man of the same name runs international chains of fitness and fitness studios, including Gold’s Gym and McFit. At least one other person on board the plane appeared to be a relative of Schaller’s, but the relationship was not immediately confirmed by authorities.

Costa Rica Coast Guard personnel unload debris found during a search for a small plane that crashed off the coast of Limon on October 22, 2022.
Costa Rica Coast Guard personnel unload debris found during a search for a small plane that crashed off the coast of Limon on October 22, 2022.Ezequiel Becerra / AFP – Getty Images

Martín Arias, Costa Rica’s deputy security minister, said no bodies have yet been found at the site, about 28 kilometers offshore from Limon Airport.

“Parts have been found that indicate this is the plane,” Arias said. “So far we have found no dead or alive bodies.”

The aircraft was a nine-seat, Italian-made Piaggio P180 Avanti known for its distinctive profile.

The plane disappeared from radar while flying to Limon, a resort town on the coast.

The security minister said the flight took off from Mexico.

“Around six o’clock in the afternoon, we received an alert about a flight from Mexico to Limon Airport with five German passengers,” Torres said. A search began immediately but was temporarily halted due to inclement weather.

Rainer Schaller is listed as “Founder, Owner and CEO of RSG Group,” a conglomerate of 21 fitness, lifestyle and fashion brands operating in 48 countries and employing 41,000 people either directly or through franchises.

In 2010, Schaller hit the headlines as the organizer of the Berlin Love Parade techno festival. A crush at the event killed 21 people and injured more than 500. Authorities said at the time that Schaller’s security forces failed to stem the flow of people into a tunnel when the situation at the entrance to the festival site was already tense.

Schaller defended himself against the allegations of misconduct and stated that his security concept had been approved by the city.

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