Memorial held for Nakuru chopper crash victims - Daily Nation

Memorial service held for Lake Nakuru chopper crash victims

Saturday February 10 2018

Lake Nakuru chopper crash.

Memorial service held at the shores of Lake Nakuru on February 10, 2018 for missing victims of the October 21, 2017 chopper crash. PHOTOS | JOSEPH OPENDA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By JOSEPH OPENDA
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Emotions ran high on Saturday when families and friends of last year's Lake Nakuru chopper crash held a memorial service at the lake's shores.

Hundreds of people gathered inside the Lake Nakuru National Park to pray for the five victims, among them Mr John Njuguna Mapozi and Mr Sam Gitau whose bodies were not retrieved.

The helicopter crashed on October 21 last year, killing five people who were on board.

Lake Nakuru chopper crash.

Memorial service held at the shores of Lake Nakuru on February 10, 2018 for missing victims of the October 21, 2017 chopper crash. PHOTOS | JOSEPH OPENDA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

SERVICE

The memorial service began in the morning and was led by Father Fernandez Andati of St Joseph's Catholic Church.

Speakers condoled with the families and praised the deceased as hardworking youth.

Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika said the crash robbed her of close friends and associates who enabled her clinch her seat on August 8, 2017.

Three of the crash victims worked for her.

Ms Kihika described them as fallen soldiers who died in the line of duty.

“The crash robbed us of great, industrious and ambitious youth who were going to make it very far. Mr Gitau and Mr Mapozi were like my sons and I was really heartbroken by the news of their death,” she said.

Lake Nakuru chopper crash.

Memorial service held at the shores of Lake Nakuru on February 10, 2018 for missing victims of the October 21, 2017 chopper crash. PHOTOS | JOSEPH OPENDA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

MEMORIAL

Other leaders who attended the memorial service include lawmakers David Gikaria (Nakuru Town East), Samuel Gachobe (Subukia), Samuel Arama (Nakuru Town West), Kuria Kimani (Molo) and Liza Chelule (Nakuru Woman Representative).

Nominated Senator Isaac Mwaura, State House Communication Director Dennis Itumbi and many ward representatives were also in attendance.

The portraits of Mr Mapozi and Mr Gitau were put on top of a table next to the podium. There were no caskets.

The mourners later conducted a symbolic burial rite for the dead at the lake’s shores.

The parents of the victims whose bodies were yet to be retrieved, could not hide their sorrow as they threw soil into the lake.

Mr Mapozi’s father said he could not forget his son’s last words and ambitious plan.

“He pointed out where he wanted to build a permanent house; his words still ring in my mind,” Mr Simon Njuguna said in tears.

The families, friends and area leaders laid flowers along the shores of the lake during the procession.

Lake Nakuru chopper crash.

Memorial service held at the shores of Lake Nakuru on February 10, 2018 for missing victims of the October 21, 2017 chopper crash. PHOTOS | JOSEPH OPENDA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

ACCIDENT

The campaign chopper, which crashed on October 21, 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 on November were parts of the helicopter and its fuselage.

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

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