A tragic incident unfolded on Thursday afternoon when a Kenya Defence Force (KDF) helicopter crashed, resulting in the loss of several officers’ lives. The chopper they were traveling in went down at Sindar area, Kaben location, Tot division, Elgeyo Marakwet County.

Among those who tragically lost their lives in the crash was Chief of Defence Forces General Francis Ogolla, alongside nine other KDF officials. The officers who perished in the accident are Brig Swaleh Saidi, Col Duncan Keitany, Lt Col David Sawe, Major George Benson Magondu (also serving as the pilot), Capt Sorah Mohamed, Capt Hillary Litali, Senior Sergeant John Kinywa Mureithi, Sergent Cliffonce Omondi, and Sergent Rose Nyawira.

The tragic crash occurred while the officers were on a mission to survey the area in preparation for the planned deployment of additional troops to combat cattle rustlers in the region. Following the accident, the area was promptly cordoned off to facilitate rescue and investigation efforts.

In response to General Ogolla’s untimely death, President William Ruto declared a three-day national mourning period, beginning on Friday, April 19, 2024. During this solemn period, the national flag, as well as the flags of the Kenya Defence Forces and the East African Community, will fly at half-mast across Kenya and in Kenyan missions abroad.

President Ruto provided insights into General Ogolla’s final mission, revealing that the Chief of Defence Forces had boarded the Kenya Air Force Huey Helicopter that fateful Thursday morning. His itinerary included visiting troops stationed in the North Rift as part of Operation Maliza Uhalifu and inspecting ongoing school renovation projects in five schools.

Before the crash, General Ogolla had received security briefings from a multi-agency team stationed at Chesitet in Baringo County. Subsequently, he proceeded to the Kainuk Forward Operating Base in Turkana County, where he commended the troops for their resilience and operational achievements.

Tragically, the aircraft crashed shortly after departing from Chesegon in West Pokot County, where General Ogolla had launched the rehabilitation of Cheptulel Boys High School. The helicopter was en route to the Recruits Training School in Uasin Gishu County, where General Ogolla was scheduled to inspect construction facilities.

In response to the tragic incident, the Kenya Air Force has formed an air investigations team tasked with determining the cause of the crash.