REDDING (CBS13) — More information is surfacing about the brothers from Redding who were killed in the Boeing 737 MAX plane crash. Some of Mel and Bennett Riffel’s closest friends gathered Wednesday to share their memories of the two men.
Mel and Bennett Riffel had a large network of friends, but those friends are quick to tell you they always felt more like family.
So, losing both in such a horrific way has been tough to wrap their heads around.
“We talked every day almost, with a bunch of us. Every day,” said friend Ryan Muse.
The Riffel brothers were among the 157 people killed in Sunday’s Ethiopian Airlines plane crash. They were on vacation and had been in Australia and Somalia before traveling to Ethiopia, ahead of the birth of Mel’s first child, a daughter, in May.
“He couldn’t wait to meet her. To take her to do everything that he loved. Because he just loved being with people and sharing his passion,” said Seng Saechao.
The friends met up at one of their favorite spots to share videos and pictures of their many adventures with the Riffels. They say Bennett was the “gentle giant” of the group.
“Big, quiet guy. But it’s kind of crazy. They don’t look anything alike but when they talk, we couldn’t even tell who was who,” Saechao said.
And Mel was the lift of the party with a huge heart.
“He was the most loving, most joyful, most positive person I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing,” said Jordan Webb.
The group said the best way to honor their dear friends is to support their family, stepping up especially for Mel’s wife Brittney and his baby girl.
“We’re going to teach her to do everything he loved… snowboard, surf, dance. Well, he can’t dance at all… haha. He thought he could,” Saechao said.
Part of how this group of friends is coping is through laughter. They say that’s what Mel and Bennett would have wanted.
They also joked Mel would have wanted to make sure his baby girl, who he wanted to name Emma, didn’t date until she’s 30.