Monday, 11 April 2022

CHOPPER CRASH : MAI TT MOURNS PILOT

THE helicopter that crashed near Chibhero Agricultural College in Mhondoro on Sunday was privately owned and resulted in the death of its pilot, officials said yesterday.

The chopper was owned by Chikopokopo Helicopter Tours in Victoria Falls and had ferried comedian Felistas Murata, popularly known as Mai Titi to her wedding in Chisipite, Harare, the previous day.

The pilot, who was alone when the crash happened, was identified as Peter Chirimuuto.

Chikopokopo proprietor Lloyd Muchaka yesterday confirmed to NewsDay: “Yes, it is true that the chopper belonged to us. The pilot was the only one on board and he was on duty.”

Contacted for comment by NewsDay yesterday, police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said: “I am waiting for a full briefing.”

In a Facebook post yesterday Mai Titi said she was traumatised by Chirimuuto’s death.

“Just this morning people called me saying your pilot crashed and passed away soon after dropping me, I am thinking it is just false rumours. I didn’t know him. I just booked for Chikopokopo services and when I went on board he opened the door for me, saluted and said: ‘I’m honoured to be taking you to your big day’,” Mai Titi said.

“May his family be comforted, this is a terrible time. Ah God, why? My brother, I don’t know what to say. May your soul rest in peace and thank you for the hospitality you gave me those few minutes I knew you,” she said. 

Two police officers were guarding the wreckage, with some pieces from the wings seen hanging on a tree about 10 metres away.

An eyewitness, Mr Musekiwa Mapunde told The Herald that : “It seemed as if the pilot wanted to fly past trees in the mountain but failed, resulting in the helicopter hitting a tree branch and within seconds, we heard a loud bang.


“The sound of the helicopter was just like that of small planes. I then rushed from my homestead as the helicopter had crashed near my neighbour’s compound.”

Mr Mapunde said he then met eight other villagers who directed them to the exact site of the crash in the mountain.

“We then discovered that the helicopter had crashed with wreckage all over the place, we tried to save the life of the pilot, but it was too late as he was dead. Within minutes, a neighbourhood officer arrived and managed to get in touch with the police who then attended the scene,” said Mr Mapunde.  

Mr Elson Mangani, whose homestead is the nearest to the crash scene, said his family escaped death by a whisker.

“I was inside my house and only heard the sound of the helicopter which was clear that it was flying low.

“I was not taken aback since planes usually pass through the area. There was my son outside who witnessed the plane crashing and shouted while seeking protection.

“At that moment I then rushed outside only to witness pieces of the helicopter hanging on trees in the mountain and its sound when crashing,” he said.

Another witness, Mrs Elizabeth Kacheche, said she remains terrified “even up to now”.

“I am yet to come to terms with the horrific incident since it is my first time encountering such experience,” she said.

Another helicopter was also forced to crash land recently after developing a technical fault in the same area.

 

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