NYERI, Kenya, Jun 15 – Tributes from family and friends ushered in a somber mood at Kiunyu village in Giakanja, Nyeri County during the burial of First Officer Jean Muthoni Muriithi, who passed on after a Fly-SAX plane with 10 passengers crashed in the Aberdare forest last Tuesday.
Her former schoolmates at Mt. Kenya Academy remember her as a brilliant and determined student who relentlessly pursued her goals.
Muthoni, who passed with flying colours at Kenya High School to join Strathmore University for a degree course in Finance, has been remembered by schoolmates as friendly, jolly and ambitious.
“She was a real powerhouse in every aspect and nothing stood her way to achieve her dreams,” notes one former schoolmate.
The pilot perished on June 5, when a plane she was flying crashed as a result of bad weather at the Aberdare Ranges. She was in the company of her co-worker Captain Barbara Wangechi, and eight passengers they were flying from Kitale to Nairobi. The plane, which dropped from the radar after crashing, was found two days after it went missing and a search and rescue mission found that there were no survivors.
Fly-SAX workmates eulogized Noni, as she was popularly known, as an excellent and dedicated person with a brave heart to be in the sky.
“Noni, you will always be remembered for your servanthood and professionalism. It’s all clear skies for you,” they eulogized
“Jean the genius” was the title she earned from her colleagues at the School of Flying, who noted that she tarmacked for four years to get a job in Mombasa.
“The aviation industry welcomed her with both arms wide and open. This was very clear by the numerous friends she instantly made,” they noted.
During the lowering of the body to the grave, her younger brother kissed the casket in tears and her mother stood her ground just like her late daughter, whom the brother eulogized as a strong pillar in the family.
The family was adorned in complete flying gear in remembrance of their daughter, who was a brilliant and outstanding figure.
Muriithi’s burial comes a day after her colleague Wangechi was laid to rest at an equally emotional service at her family home in Kiambu County.
But friends and family are still baffled about the many unanswered questions regarding the cause of the crash. Was it unavoidable or was the main tower at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at fault? Investigators have collected all relevant samples and exhibits for analysis to establish what caused the incident.
According to reports, Captain Wangechi was not familiar with the Aberdare route, which begs the question – did the operators at the JKIA offer any assistance and was it timely?
The plane that was flying at 11,000ft crashed at Elephant Hill, which towers at 12,815ft.
The passengers who perished in the crash were Ahmed Ali Abdi, Karaba Sailah Waweru Muiga, Khetia Kishani, Matakasakaraia Thamana, Matakatekei Paula, Ngugi George Kinyua, Pinuertorn Ronald and Wafula Robinson.