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Lake Nakuru chopper crash report reveals pilot was drunk

Wednesday November 20 2019

Captain Apollo Malowa

Captain Apollo Malowa, who died when the copter he was flying on October 21, 2017 crashed into Lake Nakuru. PHOTO | COURTESY | FACEBOOK 

SYLVANIA AMBANI
By SYLVANIA AMBANI
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The pilot who flew the ill-fated helicopter that crashed into Lake Nakuru while carrying Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika's communication team was drunk.

This was revealed on Tuesday in a report that Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia released.

The report on the crash on October 21, 2017 says the aircraft “collided with the water surface due to loss of situation awareness by the pilot, who was under the influence of alcohol as depicted from the toxicology results”.

It adds that Captain Apollo Malowa failed to recognise the loss of altitude, excessive banking to the left and obstacle proximity from the aircraft.

THE VICTIMS

The Flex Air Limited helicopter, type AS 350 B3 and registration 5Y-NMJ, crashed into Lake Nakuru on at 6.37am on that day.

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The pilot and all his four passengers died.

The bodies of Captain Malowa, Ms Veronicah Muthoni and Mr Anthony Kipyegon were retrieved after 25 days while those of Mr Sam Gitau and Mr John Mapozi - both part of Ms Kihika’s communication team - were never found.

“It took more than 25 days to locate and retrieve the wreckage of the helicopter and recover three bodies of persons on board," the report says.

"The search for two other bodies was, however, unsuccessful even after the search was extended for several days later."

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

BRIGHT FUTURE

During his burial in Lenya village in Bondo sub-county, Mr Malowa’s mother Dorothy Malowa described him as a hardworking, disciplined and honest man who had a promising career and future.

Ms Muthoni was then a 22-year-old fresh graduate of the Rift Valley Institute of Science and Technology.

Her family said she finished a certificate course in catering in 2016 and had been searching for a job in Nakuru town.

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