NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 12- The phrase ‘the sky is the limit’ was a very practical one for Captain Luke Oyugi whose determination saw him rise from poverty to a life in the skies as a Kenya Police helicopter pilot.
Oyugi was the co-pilot of the flight that crashed on Sunday killing all six persons on board.
Born and raised in a life of paucity, Oyugi utilised every opportunity he got to better his life and to a large extent the life of his four siblings.
The second born in a family of five, he attended Mbaga Primary School before he proceeded to Hono Secondary school.
Oyugi attained a mean grade of B in his Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations in 1996.
The father of four however failed to get a sponsor to further his education to the university and was engaged in odd jobs until he got his way at an intake into the General Service Unit (GSU) in 1998.
After he completed his high school education, Oyugi spent his time trying to make ends meet by doing odd jobs which included walking long distances to work as a construction worker.
He also repaired bicycles for his neighbours at a fee and as a booking clerk for the defunct Stagecoach Bus Company.
The late captain with over 1,000 flying hours applied to join the Police Air Wing following an advertisement calling for trainees and was chosen to be trained in January 2002.
His younger sister Elizabeth Anyango Oyugi told Capital FM News that he assumed the role of bread winner following the death of their parents (Charles and Margaret Oyugi), the latter who passed on in 1998.
“Death has robbed us off a bread winner and we will pray to God that he helps us to get over the loss; he was more of a dad and a friend to me than as a brother,” she says struggling to hold back her tears.
“He thought of us more that he thought of himself, put our needs ahead of his own and made a lot of sacrifices because he cared for us,” she added.
“Death is this cruel thief, it has taken him from us when we did not expect; when there was no sign, only God knows,” she says before we end the interview to look at pictures of his brother.
Andrew Ogongo a cousin to the deceased who spent Saturday night with the pilot says he was shocked at the death of his best friend whom he frequently hanged out with.
He describes the late Oyugi as a jovial person, outgoing, a person who had love for other people and was slow to anger.
“To me he is irreplaceable, his death was so painful but now we have to learn to live with it,” he said also struggling to contain his emotions.
Oyugi’s wife Patricia Adhiambo Owino – overcome by grief – could not talk to this reporter as she had just come back from viewing the body at the Lee Funeral Home after travelling from their rural home.
The late Oyugi and his wife were blessed with four children Cynthia (17), Fidel (13), Cornell (9) and Kimberly (5) all of whom had been expected to arrive in Nairobi on Monday evening.
Air wing Commandant Rodgers Mbithi admitted that filling the gaps left by Oyugi and Nancy Gituanja will not be an easy thing to accomplish.
Mbithi describes them saying: “They were assets to the force who were very useful to the force and who had the right attitude for the job.”
Captain Oyugi was said to have been very experienced and had travelled with Internal Security minister George Saitoti on several missions.
Other assignments which he undertook successfully with the Eurocopter AS350 that crashed on Sunday is the safe evacuation of Kenyans who were affected by floods in April and May.
Captain Oyugi died alongside Captain Nancy Gituanja. The pair qualified as captains in 2010 and were competent to fly the M117, Bell 206 choppers and the newly acquired AS350.
Others killed in the crash were Internal Security Minister George Saitoti his assistant Orwa Ojode and bodyguards Inspector Joshua Tonkei and Sergeant Thomas Murimi.