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Mario Magonga: DP Ruto's seasoned pilot

Martin Murigi
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The late Captain Mario Magonga who died in a helicopter crash on Sunday. [Source/Ndirangu Mwangi]

Details have emerged concerning Deputy President William Ruto's pilot Captain Mario Magonga who perished in a chopper crash on Sunday night.

Magonga died alongside four Americans when the helicopter they were flying in crashed at Central Island National Park in Lake Turkana.

The National Police Service has reported that the wreckage of chopper and five bodies were found at scene at around 4am.

Confirming the incident, Kitutu Chache South Member of Parliament Richard Onyonka, a relative of the deceased pilot, said the chopper was lost on the radar moments before crashing in the lake.

"He (Mario) got out of radar and they were unable to trace him until about 2am when they found the wreckage. The only thing we know is he was the one flying the helicopter," he said.

Speaking to NTV on Monday morning, Onyonka said Ruto's pilot was his first cousin and hails from a military family in Nyamataro, Kitutu Chache South, Gusii region.

He learnt his flying skills from the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) where he served in the rank of Colonel. His father, Brigadier (rtd) Pius Magonga, served in the army for several decades before his death few years ago.

"Mario is a first cousin to us. His father was an army man. Mario was trained by Kenya Army. He was a highly qualified Kenya Army pilot. He was about 45 and had a very young family," the MP said.

The legislator added that Captain Magonga has been a frequent flier of the Deputy President. The cause of the accident is yet to be established.

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