Friday, August 21

Bristow crash: AIB releases names of passengers

The Accident Investigation Bureau on Thursday released the official list of passengers and crew members onboard the Bristow Helicopters’ chopper that crashed into a lagoon in Lagos last Wednesday.

The official list, often called passengers’ manifest, contained the names of the 10 passengers and two flight crew members that were aboard the ill-fated Sikosky S76 C+ helicopter that crashed in the Oworonsoki area of Lagos on August 12.

The AIB had confirmed that the pilot, co-pilot and four passengers died in the unfortunate incident while six passengers survived.

The six survivors are currently receiving treatment at the hospital, while the bodies of the six dead victims had been deposited in the mortuary.

The names are; Ita Ekpeyong, Joshua Emekeme, Dolu Ebiejuara, Onoriode Onojete, Chukwuma Erise and Solomon Udeh.

Others are Chidi Ukwunta, Iniala Opaimi, Chris Abua, Chukwudi Onah, Joseph Wyatt (Captain), and Peter Kayode Bello (Co-Pilot).

According to the AIB, the survivors are Joshua Emekeme, Dolu Ebiejuara, Onoriode Onojete, Solomon Udeh, Iniala Opaimi and Chukwudi Onah, while others died in the crash.

The AIB in a statement accompanying the passengers’ manifest on Thursday said the Sikosky S76 C+ helicopter crashed into the lagoon in Oworonsoki area of Lagos shortly before landing at Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja, Lagos.

The statement by the AIB spokesman, Mr. Tunji Oketumbi, recalled that the helicopter marked 5N-BGD and operated by Bristow Helicopters had departed SEDCO oil platform offshore en-route Lagos airport.

Meanwhile, the family of the late co-pilot on Thursday held a funeral mass for the deceased in Calabar without the corpse.

As early as 10am, family members and friends had gathered at the Margaret Ekpo International Airport in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, to receive the corpse but they had to leave around for St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in the Ikot Ansa axis of the metropolis, when it became obvious that the corpse would not arrive from Lagos.

No reason was given for the delay in bringing the corpse.

At the church funeral service, which commenced at about 3.30pm, tributes poured in for the late Capt. Bello

Delivering his homily at the funeral mass, Rev. Fr. Patrick Corcoran, who took his Bible reading from John 14:1-6, advised Christians not to allow their hearts to be troubled, but to have faith in God.

Corcoran condoled with the family and urged them to be thankful to God that their son died as a Christian.

After the church service, the parents of the co-pilot, Mr. and Mrs. Peter Bello, refused to speak with one of our correspondents.

But the father had during the service said, “We thank God that in the last 26 years, we shared wonderful times with you. We thank God for your life and all it meant to us. We can only live with these memories.

“We are confident that God has better plans for us because He is a good God. Lord, help us to know you more. All we wish and pray for is that your death brings others to know who God is. God is sovereign. We love you, we miss you. Rest in the bosom of the Lord.”

The company’s Lagos Base manager, Captain Ayo Oni, in a tribute said, “He was never late for flights, never had an excuse not to fly…it was his passion,” he said.

A relative of the deceased, Mrs. Femi Bello, said that death took the `young pilot’ too early when his services were most needed at Bristol.

She prayed for the repose of the soul of the late pilot.

A family friend, Mrs. Theresa Okon, said that the late Bello was a celebrated pilot who devoted adequate time to his job.

The funeral mass attracted dignitaries including politicians, businessmen, top civil servants, service chiefs, and others.

The deceased was supposed to have been interred at the Hawkins Cemetery in Calabar after the funeral mass.

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