Copter crash pilot was a philanthropic man – Family

Wednesday March 18 2020

Captain Mario Magonga's mother, sisters and other relatives at their home in Kitale. They described him as quiet and philanthropic. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP


Captain Mario Magonga, the pilot who died on Sunday evening in a helicopter crash in Turkana County has been described by his family as a bread winner and a philanthropist.

Mrs Melania Magonga, the mother of the 45-year-old pilot, said that her son did a lot in supporting his family.

"Mario was helping us a lot. It’s so painful. Whenever I requested something he would provide for me," she told the Nation in an interview at her rental home at Section Six in Kitale town.

Mario had bought a plot for his mother and was renovating a house before she could move into it.


She explained how her daughters tried to keep the sad news from her in the morning after coming from a routine walk. But she had a feeling that something was not right.

"I had no clue of anything. I was on my routine walk in the morning when I came home. I was asked by my neighbour why was my daughter crying outside our gate. I decided to find out…I met with church members who informed me of the plane crash and that my son was in ICU," she explained.

"I told them that they were lying since no one would survive a plane crash. I told them that I knew my son was dead since I felt it myself," she added while sobbing.

Gladys Magonga, the pilot's sister, said that she received the news at around 5am from her brother’s wife who could not express herself properly, forcing person seated next to her to explain it on phone.


Gladys described her brother as a reserved person who took his work seriously and did not involve the family in the work he was doing because of its nature.

"I was shocked and we had a litmus test in the morning when we were trying to keep the information from our mother because she's fragile since she has health issues. The news was all over, so we had to switch off the television, keep radio away and divert her phone calls," she said.

She revealed that it was also shocking to realise that her brother was Deputy President William Ruto’s pilot.

"I knew he was a pilot but did not know he was attached to the deputy president," she noted.


She appealed to the deputy president for assistance in order to complete the projects that her brother had started and also in taking care of his three children and family.

Mario, the fourth born in a family of three boys and two girls was working on getting property for his three children to have a permanent home.

Mario died together with four American tourists when the helicopter crashed.

The helicopter is reported to have crashed at Central Island National Park in Lake Turkana at around 8pm Sunday killing all the five occupants on board.


The wreckage of the chopper and the bodies were found on Monday morning at around 4am.

Turkana County Deputy Commissioner Alexander Motivo said two planes were seen on Sunday evening approaching the Lobolo tented camp but one crashed.

“The tourists were set to travel on Monday to Central Island that is about 75 kilometres from the showers of Lake Turkana but one plane went missing and it didn’t land at Lobolo,” he said.

The American tourists had visited Lobolo Tented Camp on the Island and were flying back when it crashed.