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American couple on holiday killed in Londiani plane crash

By Nikko Tanui and Kennedy Gachuhi | February 14th 2019
The wreckage of Cessna 5Y-BSE which Crashed in a private farm at Kamwingi 1 village in Londiani, Kericho County on February 13, 2019. [Kipsang Joseph/Standard]

An American family of three that was on holiday was among five people killed in a plane crash in Londiani yesterday.

According to sources, the American couple and their daughter were flying from Intrepid Lodge in Maasai Mara, where they had spent two nights.

The ill-fated Cessna 206 registration 5Y-BSE crashed into a cypress tree on a private farm in Kamuingi One, Londiani, in Kipkelion East constituency yesterday at around 10.45am.

The aircraft, which was being navigated by Kevin Mwanza Mutava, killed Carl Richard Sednaoui, who had both American and French citizenship, and his wife Melissa Witt, an American national.

Also on board was their daughter, Cynthia Charles Sednaoui, and another unidentified male.

According to witnesses, the pilot appeared to have lost control of the aircraft as it was flying at a low altitude.

Joseph Ng’ethe said the pilot seemed to have been having a hard time controlling the aircraft and had tried to land it at Kamuingi One Secondary School, but aborted, only to crash in the next farm.

“The students were out watching the plane. The pilot’s hand could be seen out waving at them to move out of the way. He was, however, unable to land in the school and crashed a few metres away,” said Mr Ng’ethe.

The plane crashed into a tree in the neighbouring farm belonging to Josphat Gikonyo, killing the five on the spot.

Mr Gikonyo, who was supervising tilling of his farm, said he spotted the light aircraft plummeting from the sky towards his farm, with the pilot warning them to move away.

Josephat Kimutai, a tractor driver, had to move several metres from the farm as the plane plunged to the ground.

Several metres

Mr Kimutai recalled seeing a female occupant of the plane attempting to jump out, but she got stuck as she was still strapped in by a seat belt.

Kimutai and Gikonyo rushed to the scene to rescue the occupants but on arrival the pilot, who was writhing in pain, warned them against moving closer, saying the plane was about to explode.

“The pilot was stuck in the wreckage but he was still alive although badly injured. He told us to keep off, saying the plane could explode into flames. We, however, tried to remove them but they succumbed to their injuries while still trapped in their seats.”

Addressing the press at the scene, Kericho County Police Commander James Mugera said the plane was flying low shortly before the crash.

“The plane hit a tree, leading to the crash that claimed the lives of the pilot and the four passengers on board,” said Mr Mugera.

The county police commander said the bodies were taken to the Kericho County Hospital mortuary.

The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) said it received a distress call from the chartered plane before the crash.

In a statement sent to newsrooms, KCAA Director General Gilbert Kibe said the signal prompted the immediately launch of a search and rescue mission.

Kericho County Assembly Leader of Majority Hezron Kipng’eno and Londiani MCA Stanley Bett mobilised the county ambulances and fire engine to go to the scene.

“The crash has brought to the fore the need for an airstrip in Londiani where chartered planes can make emergency landings,” said Mr Kipng’eno.

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