Captain Apollo Malowa, the pilot of the ill-fated chopper that crashed in Lake Nakuru in October 2017 was drunk, a probe report has revealed.
Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia released the report on Tuesday indicating that the helicopter “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”.
Cpt Apollo reportedly failed to recognise the loss of altitude, excessive banking to the left and the obstacle proximity from the aircraft.
The pilot and all four members of Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika’s communication team 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.”
Following the 2017 crash, there were reports that Captain Apollo loved the bottle and was out drinking the night before the accident.
A witness informed the investigating team that Malowa had been spotted in the company of unknown persons at a famous club in downtown Nakuru.
“The information was further collaborated with the club attendants who also informed the investigation team seeing the deceased at the club. The security guard at the hotel also informed the investigation that the deceased pilot arrived at the hotel in the morning at around 0300 hours on 21 October 2017 in company of three men and one female,” the report said.
Reportedly, Malowa then proceeded into the helicopter that was parked outside the hotel and boarded with three men and one female passenger.
The pilot is said to have made a few circuits before heading towards Lake Nakuru.
The report indicates that it was not immediately established what was the purpose of the flight as Malowa never talked to anybody on arrival at the hotel.
According to rumored information at the hotel by a number of witnesses, the pilot had planned to fly around the lake for sightseeing before they could fly back to the hotel.
“At 0341 hours an eye witness, saw the helicopter fly at low level towards the lake. She saw the helicopter fly over the lake then it made a turn on southern end. It then made a left turn and flew back on the eastern side of the lake before it plunged into the water,” the report quoted.