I miss them every minute of every day, man who lost 5 relatives in ET crash gives testimony

A father who lost his whole family in the Ethiopian Airline crash in March, said he misses them “every minute of every day”.

Paul Njoroge said he has “nightmares about how (his children) must have clung to their mother crying” during the doomed flight.

His wife, three children and mother-in-law were on the Boeing 737 Max that crashed after take-off.

The loss of the Ethiopian Airlines’ flight was the second fatal accident involving a 737 Max in five months.

A near identical aircraft, owned by the Indonesian carrier Lion Air, went down in the sea off Jakarta in October 2018.

The 737 airplane model has been grounded since then.

Boeing’s decision not to ground the 737 Max after the first crash is now under scrutiny.

In emotional testimony to US Congress, Mr Njoroge said: “All I could think about was the 737 Max struggling to gain height and eventually diving to the ground, killing my whole family and 152 others. Every minute of every day they would be all around me, full of life and health. I miss them every minute of every day.”

He said the airplane manufacturer – which has apologised publicly to the victims’ families – had not apologised personally.

“Boeing have not apologised to us personally. No letters. They have not reached out to us at all.

“They appear on cameras to apologise to us,” he said.

Also sitting at the witness bench with Mr Njoroge was Michael Stumo whose 24-year-old daughter, Samya Rose Stumo, was also killed.

They are part of a group of families who are pushing Boeing, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the US government for answers.

“On April 4, three weeks after the deaths of my family, in what I have since learned is a shameful pattern of behaviour by Boeing and airplane manufacturers, Boeing shifted focus from the root cause of the crashes – the design flaws in the 737 Max and MCAS – and started talking about ‘foreign pilot error’,” Mr Njoroge said.

Congressman Sam Graves at a hearing in Washington in May argued that “facts in the preliminary report reveal pilot error as a factor”.

The discussion about foreign pilots being responsible for the crash has angered the families.

Mr Njoroge told the hearing: “Would they have used the term “domestic pilot error” if the crash happened in the United States? The term ‘foreign pilot error’ is utter prejudice and a disrespect to pilots and Boeing customers across the world”.

Boeing and its relationship with the FAA is also a key battle line for the families.

Under an arrangement formed in 2005, the FAA delegated to Boeing the authority to perform some safety-certification work on its behalf.

The families said they believe the FAA “recklessly left Boeing to police itself”.

“If Boeing’s wrongful conduct continues, another plane will dive to the ground killing me or you or your children or other members of your family. It is you who must be the leaders in this fight for aviation safety in the world,” said Mr Njoroge said.

After the crash in March, it was revealed by insiders that pilots had trained to fly the 737 Max, a new version of the 737, after completing an iPad course that lasted an hour.

The “families demand that the 737 Max 8 be fully re-certified as a new plane because it is too different from the original certified plane. We demand that simulator training be required,” Mr Njoroge told Congress.

The biggest question in global aviation is when will the 737 Max begin to fly again? Just this week, major airlines in the US confirmed they’ll be out of service until at least November, maybe even 2020.

In response to the points made at the congressional hearing, Boeing said: “We truly regret the loss of lives in both of these accidents and we are deeply sorry for the impact to the families and loved ones of those on board.

“These incidents and the lives lost will continue to weigh heavily on our hearts and on our minds for years to come. We are committed to working with the communities, customers and the aviation industry to help with the healing process.”

By nation.co.ke

Ethiopian crash: I will not bury anything that is not my wife

Tragedy cut short beautiful love story. Denis Adhoch is grief-stricken after losing his wife, Immaculate Achieng Odero (Lettie) in the ill-fated Ethiopian Airlines crash.

Immaculate was among the over 30 Kenyans who lost their lives on March 10, after their plane crashed a few minutes after leaving Addis Ababa.

Their family house in one of the sprouting estates in Nairobi has seen many visitors.

A nearly full Condolence’s Book, and a beautiful picture of Immaculate is what ushers in visitors.


The house is quiet, that kind of quietness that does not silence grief.

Denis has cried every day and still wishes it was a dream.

“She called me on March 9 at around 7pm to inform me that she would be travelling from Khartoum, Sudan, the following morning at 3am to Nairobi via Ethiopia. That was just a few hours before the crash.

“She had promised to make another call, one last one, as she boarded her plane the next morning, but she never did. Instead, she sent a WhatsApp message informing me that she had overslept, and had to rush to the airport,” says Denis.

That was the last communication they would ever have.

“It breaks my heart talking about our plans now. I wasn’t home for over two months, I left Nairobi on January 14 for work in Takaba, Northern Kenya. I was scheduled to come back home on March 11. I was excited, we were both excited,” he says, his eyes blurred with tears.

He goes on after a brief silence: “Our wedding anniversary was to be on March 5, her birthday would follow on March 15. I couldn’t wait to come back home to her. We often spoke on phone, and she sent beautiful texts, detailing how she was going to be away for 11 days in Sudan and would come back on March 10 connecting through Addis Ababa.”

“I couldn’t wait to be with her again. I had promised to take her out for her birthday once she returned, and get to spend time with our two-year-old daughter, Amari. She agreed, but insisted on paying for it,” says Denis who met Immaculate at The University of Nairobi in 2008.

She wanted to treat everyone on her birthday, she had bought gifts for everyone, her sisters, brothers, brother-in-law.


Dennis Adhoch with his late wife, Immaculate Achieng.

The two were classmates at The College of Education and External Studies, and were training as teachers.

“It all started in 2008 at the University of Nairobi where we were both pursuing Education. I remember trooping into our departmental offices to get my timetable when I met her in the company of three other ladies – all first years,” he says with a tinge of nostalgia.

Their friendship took root that very day, and would be cemented a just a few days later after Denis received news from home that his sister was no more.

“As a friend, she gave me a shoulder to cry on, despite the fact that we were only beginning to know one another. She stood with me,” says Denis who also lost his father in December 2003 and mother in January 2007.

“We formally got married on March 5, 2016 in a beautiful traditional wedding attended by family and friends and were blessed with a daughter in December 2017. We shared 11 years of happiness. She was a good friend, a good wife and the beautiful mother of our daughter,” says Denis.

At the time of the tragedy, Denis who was undertaking emergency response work in Takaba, Mandera West, received a text message from his friend Ruto at around 11am. He was in the middle of conducting a training.

The text read: “I hope you are safe brother, najua wewe hufly to Ethiopia” (I wanted to know if you are safe, because you always travel to Ethiopia).

“I stepped out and called Ruto. He told me there was this plane crash. I told him I was safe but remembered my wife was connecting from Ethiopia, so I asked him to find out the flight number, which he did. I called my sister-in-law, Lettie’s sister, they had already heard about it from their internal security communications and were already following up with her work place in a bid to confirm her itinerary,” says Denis.

Adding: “She got in touch with her work place who told her that she was scheduled to travel on that day but that they were still confirming the actual flight number. I think they knew but did not know how to relay the news.”

It was not until around 12pm that he received news that Immaculate was supposed to be on the fateful flight. That, to Denis, could mean the worst.


The late Immaculate Achieng.

“Some part of me wished she had missed the fateful flight, or if she was on it, then she was one of the survivors. I didn’t have the strength to go to social media and check. I started shaking and crying, I couldn’t go back to the training.”

It was not until 5pm that same day that he received news that would shutter his life, news that would end a beautiful journey that started at the University of Nairobi.

“My brother-in-law called me from the JKIA, where an information desk for families had been set up. He told me Immaculate was on the flight, but could not confirm if indeed there were any survivors. At that moment, with the help of my employer, I was booked onto a flight headed for Nairobi from Wajir for the following morning.”

There was no flight from Takaba and so Denis’s employer organised for him to be moved from Takaba to Wajir to enable him catch the flight the following morning.

It was while still on the road to Wajir at around 6:30pm that he received news that there were no survivors, and that Immaculate was among the dead.

“I broke down. I had lost everything. I cried the whole evening and on the plane the next day, all the way to Nairobi. It was a pain so deep, pain I had never felt in my life. I kept asking why did it happened to us, why me? Why her? Why did I have to go through so much pain?”

On March 15, a day that was to be his wife’s birthday, Denis boarded a plane to Ethiopia accompanied by his brother-in-law.

“There were no survivors, only 5,000 body fragments collected from the crash site. They took us to the crash scene on March 16, everything was shredded to pieces, there was nothing left of the plane, it was so emotional for me, I tried to imagine how much pain she went through, if she cried for help,” says Denis.

“They allowed us to carry soil from the site. Then they told us to go home and wait for five to six months for DNA identification. It’s tragic. That families will have to wait for six months to find their kin is even more punishing.”

Denis travelled back to Kenya on March 19.

“I will not be burying anything if it is not her. I will wait until September to bury my wife,” he says, adding: “the soil I dug from the crush site has found a home in our house, and will help me to tell our story, to pursue our shared dreams and to ensure her light continues to shine and her legacy lives on.

“My heart goes out to other families that have lost their loved ones in this tragedy. I wish I could turn back the hands of time,” says Denis.



VIDEO: Tearful send of one of the Ethiopian plane crash victims


A sombre mood engulfed the memorial service of Dr Grace Kariuki who died when Ethiopian airline plane crashed six minutes after take off.

The service which took place in Manyatta,  Embu County was attended by hundreds of people, friends as well as colleagues.


Dr. Grace Kariuki, who died in the Ethiopian Airlines flight that crashed on Sunday, March 10. PHOTO| COURTESY

Dr Kariuki was attached to the division on non-communicable diseases at the ministry of health. She was flying home from a cancer-related training in Egypt.

Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) Secretary General Dr. Ouma Oluga  remembered Dr Kariuki as a dedicated health champion.

The memorial service happened in Manyatta, Embu County.

See video below: