Son Of Dalmas Otieno Killed In Crash In Vancouver Canada…

Posted on May 16, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

TORONTO, VANCOUVER, CRANBROOK, B.C. — At 6 foot 9, and one of the few black residents in Cranbrook, B.C., Isaiah Otieno stood out like few others.

The 23-year-old Kenyan, an international student who arrived in the small community just two years ago to study business at the College of the Rockies, was often the target of small-town racism, but despite that managed to leave a lasting impression as a natural-born leader who was determined to follow in his father’s footsteps, a close friend said yesterday.

In a tragic twist, however, the young man’s life came to a sudden end yesterday afternoon, when a helicopter carrying three passengers crashed into him as he crossed the street downtown, and dragged him for several metres before exploding in a ball of flames. The pilot and two passengers also died.

The helicopter, which witnesses say had been flying extremely low moments before it plunged to the ground, left a trail of flames and wreckage as it skidded for several metres along the street.

Isaac Hockley, a friend of Mr. Otieno, said the man was walking to the mailbox to post a letter to his parents, who live in Kenya. He was wearing headphones at the time, which might explain why he didn’t hear the low-flying vehicle sputtering just 50 metres in the air above him at 1:03 p.m.

Elmer Bautz, who lives just metres from the crash site, said he saw Mr. Otieno walking down 10th Street South, near 14th Avenue, from his window as the helicopter came crashing down.

“If he would have jumped just five feet, he would have missed it,” Mr. Bautz, 63, said.

The helicopter made a couple of circles around a Catholic church before it crashed and burst into flames, said Norm Magee, who was driving to downtown at the time.

“It was on the ground in flames that were two or three houses tall. There were some men who had taken their shirts off, dragging a body away from the helicopter towards the street. They were trying to put the flames out, trying to smother the flames with their shirts.”

Mr. Magee, 60, got out of his car and grabbed a garden hose nearby, but it was too late. Mr. Otieno was already dead.

There was no way anyone could get near the helicopter’s door because the flames were so big, Mr. Magee added.

Mr. Otieno came from a political family in Kenya. He was one of 13 siblings, all of whom were sent abroad to study by their treasurer father, Mr. Hockley said.

“He wanted to be just like his dad. He’s a natural leader, like his dad. His idea was to see the world, grow as a person and take over for his dad,” he said.

“It obviously wasn’t easy for him to live here, being so different in a redneck city like this. But he dealt with it as best he could. He’s seen the best kind of people in Canada and he’s seen the worst.”

Mr. Hockley said the two became close friends after Mr. Otieno saved him when a knife was pulled on him during a bar fight at Misty’s Lounge last year. Mr. Otieno had worked as a bouncer there since the club opened in April.

Misty’s manager Shane Berry said Mr. Otieno had come to Canada partly to get some distance from his father’s political involvement. “He came here to get away from what was going on [in Kenya]. He was just a really friendly guy.”

Mr. Otieno spent his first Christmas away from his family with Mr. Hockley’s in 2006. He was able to fly back last December and see his parents, Mr. Hockley said.

RCMP Corporal Chris Faulkner said he arrived at the crash scene just a few minutes after the accident.

“There was some debris in the street, and the fuel was burning for about half a block. A lot of people saw what happened. They were just dumbfounded,” he said.

Yesterday evening, the curb and sidewalks near the crash were sooty and nearby lawns blackened by the smoke and fire. A white tent covered the rubble, cordoned off by police tape. The deadly scene, however, drew the curious, who took cellphone pictures and stopped to stare.

Cpl. Faulkner said eyewitnesses told him the helicopter, carrying two B.C. Hydro employees, may have been surveying possible routes for hydro lines in a new subdivision under construction nearby. The Bighorn Helicopters chopper had been hired for the flight by B.C. Hydro, and was being flown by one of the company’s senior pilots.

A person answering the telephone at Bighorn Helicopters, a flight school based in Cranbrook, said it was one of their choppers that went down but declined to give any further information.

B.C. Hydro CEO Bob Elton said the two employees in the chopper, a Bell 206 Ranger, were on a routine line patrol.

They said in a statement that everyone at the company felt “overwhelming grief” at the news.

“This loss will be felt by all of us at B.C. Hydro and in the communities where they lived and served,” Mr. Elton said.

Cpl. Faulkner said all four victims were residents of the town. “It’s a pretty sombre day.”

Mr. Otieno is believed to have lived in one of the apartment blocks around 10th Street where the crash took place. “He hadn’t lived here that long,” Cpl. Faulkner said.

He said one of those who witnessed the crash made a “heroic effort” to rescue Mr. Otieno by pulling him from the blazing wreckage. “But I’m not sure there was any way he could have survived. It was just karma, fate, bad luck that he was right there when the helicopter crashed.”

Reporter Dean Bassett of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman said his father-in-law was driving down the street when he saw the helicopter come down.

“He said it missed a big ponderosa pine and then it came down. Boom. He pulled the pedestrian from the crash, but he was already dead.”

Two elementary schools were within two blocks of the crash scene.

Bill Yearwood of the Transportation Safety Board said three TSB investigators had begun their investigation of the crash.

Reliable source.

Butdoisay comment> What a tragedy, Our Condolences to Dalmas Otieno and family, May God bless his soul….

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2 Responses to “Son Of Dalmas Otieno Killed In Crash In Vancouver Canada…”

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RIP son.

That is really sad. May his soul rest in eternal peace.


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