Lake Nakuru copter crash victims remembered - Daily Nation

Nakuru copter crash victims remembered one year after tragedy

Sunday October 21 2018

Lake Nakuru chopper crash

Friends and relatives of victims of the Lake Nakuru chopper crash lit candles during a memorial service at the Lake Nakuru National Park on October 21, 2018. PHOTO | AYUB MUIYURO | NATION MEDIA GROUP  

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There was little activity at the Lake Nakuru National Park during the first memorial of the five people who perished after a chopper crashed into the lake.

Only a handful of friends of the late Sam Gitau, John Mapozi, Anthony Kipyegon and Veronica Muthoni, gathered at Education Hall in the Park where they held  a memorial service.

They prayed, sung and lit candles in honour of the fallen friends.

According to one of the organisers of the service, the friends decided to come together and remember their friends a year later the chopper crash.

"We decided to come and pray for our colleagues and not just assume that this is just an ordinary day,” said Mr Elijah Kinyanjui.

The friends shared some of the memories of the activities they did together before the five met their death.

“For Sam Gitau, we remember him because he was a member of a group that we did charity work like visiting children homes and donating to the needy,” said Ms Flora Mugao.

Some families of the victims said they decided to hold the memorial service in their respective homes.

Mr Erastus Nyaituga, a colleague to the late Gitau said the cause of the accident still remains a mystery, there is a lot to be remembered about the five.

“As friends, we felt the loss and we know one day, we shall get answers concerning what happened,” said Mr Nyaituga.

He called on friends to pay more attention in helping the families left behind so as to ensure they do not suffer in absence of their loved ones.

“We thank God he left behind a family, a child that we'll always remember him with and it is our duty to support the young family. We have to pray at the same time show actions,” he added.

Among those present was the late Sam Gitau's fiance Rahab Nyawira.

However,a year after  the accident , questions still linger over what caused the crash that occurred on October 21, 2017.

According to the State Department for Transport through the Aircraft Accident Investigation Division (AAID) Chief Investigator Martin Lunani, investigations into the crash are still underway.

Mr Lunani disclosed to the Nation that computers containing crucial data about the chopper crash had been flown to the United States of America and France for further analysis and data retrieval.

“The computers had crucial information about the chopper crash including parameters of the cockpit. Once they are further analyzed, we will establish what caused the accident, “said Mr Lunani on a telephone interview.

The aircraft accident expert further revealed that evidence collected from the chopper crash scene including the fuselage and other parts are preserved to aid in the investigation.

“I have already asked for a response about the analysis and data retrieved from the computers we sent abroad. Once we get the response we will be able to compile the report about the investigations,” said Mr Lunani.

A team led by Mr Lunani began investigations into the cause of the crash, two days after it occurred.

The ill-fated campaign helicopter, 5Y-NMJ, white in colour, that was commonly known to ferry politicians, was involved in the crash at around 7.30 on the fateful day.

The helicopter crashed a few minutes after it lifted off from Jarika County Lodge in Nakuru town.

The chopper had five people on board, including three members of Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika’s communication team —Mr Gitau, Mr Mapozi and Mr Anthony Kipyegon — and Ms Veronicah Muthoni as well as the pilot Mr Apollo Malowa.

The bodies of Mr Malowa, Mr Kipyegon and Ms Muthoni were retrieved last year and buried by their families.

Also recovered in November, last year were parts of the helicopter and its fuselage.

The bodies of Mr Gitau and Mr Mapozi were not found.

The search mission gathered momentum after the accident, but was abandoned about three months later.

At the time the chopper crashed, it was to ferry a group of journalists to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s campaign rally in Narok County.