The two ministers were headed for a series of meetings in Kericho, Oyugis and Borabu when the police chopper crashed, apparently as a result of poor visibility. They were expected to attend a church service in Kericho before flying to Ndhiwa, and today they were to hold a peace meeting in the volatile Kisii-Bomet border in Borabu.
Preliminary investigations ruled out a terror attack as the possible cause of the chopper’s fall. The two led a ministry at the forefront in the war against terrorism, particularly the recent wave of grenade attacks by Al-Shabaab in Kenya. Internal Security PS Mutea Iringo was quoted saying the pilot had radioed to the control tower saying the helicopter had developed a mechanical problem after takeoff.
The preliminary probe pointed at poor weather with locals saying it was misty when the aircraft crashed. The chopper left Wilson Airport at about 8.20am and the pilots were informed the next destination was Kericho.
Their colleagues were heard at the scene asking why they chose the Ngong airway as opposed to the Narok flight path, because the former is usually is prone to bad weather in the mornings.
Other pilots who departed from the same airport said they had to delay their flights for an hour because of poor weather.
Investigators said they were studying the communication between the pilots and the controller to establish what might have caused the crash.
Sources said the pilots had called saying the weather was bad and they were contemplating returning to the airport, but the communication was lost before it was clear if they were headed back.
Witnesses said they saw the helicopter make one circle before they heard a bang and saw smoke and fire rising to the skies from the scene. It was barely 10 minutes after the aircraft take off from the airport.
A witness, Mr Joseph Njonjo, said he rushed to the scene immediately the chopper crashed and found Ms Gatuanja screaming for help in the flames.
“We could not touch her or move near the fire because it was so fierce even as the lady screamed for help. We just watched from a distance as they burnt to death,” said Njonjo.
Only the Eurocopter AS350’s number and a propeller were not burnt in the incident while the rest disintegrated into pieces and strewn around the scene.
Another witness, Mr Evans Ng’ang’a, said he saw the chopper circling the sky near the forest and thought it was driving away stray elephants.