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Kenyan family demands answers after kin dies in US plane – PHOTOS

A Kenyan family living in the United States is coming to terms with the death of their kin who died mid-air before Christmas.

Eighteen year-old Griffin Gutwa from Mombasa died while traveling from San Diego to Minneapolis.

His mother, Gladys Makori, said her son died on board Delta flight 1687 while heading home for Christmas.

Speaking to ABC News, Ms Makori said her son was a freshman at the University of San Diego and had wanted to become a neurosurgeon.


Gutwa, known by the nickname “Babu,” led a very fit and disciplined life, Makori said.

There was no indication anything was wrong with him physically, she added.

In a statement Delta said: “On Dec. 22, the flight crew of Delta flight 1687 from San Diego to Minneapolis/St. Paul diverted to Sioux Falls following a customer medical emergency on board. The flight attendants used their training and engaged medical professionals on the flight to assist in the situation, and paramedics met the flight upon landing at Sioux Falls.”

An autopsy indicated that Gutwa had an enlarged heart condition known as cardiomegaly, according to the Minnehaha County Coroner’s Office.

His cause of death is however still pending.

According to the family, Babu was a devout deacon at his Minneapolis church.

“He has never tasted alcohol,” Makori said. “Never smoked, nothing. He was a good Christian boy.”



During the flight on December 22, Gutwa closed his eyes to take a nap and never opened them again.

Makori described how she arrived at the airport at just after 6pm to meet her son, but when she got there, she was told the plane was delayed.

They were told to come back 8pm, but no reason was given to them.

Makori returned to the airport two hours later, this time with her husband, Gideon Gutwa, and their other children.

When they pulled up to the terminal, they were met by police, Makori said.

Makori said they were told to park, and then officials pulled the parents aside.

“I asked, ‘What happened? What happened?’ and they said, ‘Griffin died on board,’” Makori said through tears.

The flight from San Diego took off without any issue. Griffin Gutwa settled into his seat, and when the snack cart rolled by, he asked the flight attendant for warm water, declining any food, Makori said police told her.

He then dozed off.


But an hour and a half into the flight, Griffin Gutwa started having trouble breathing, Makori said police told her.

A fellow passenger noticed and called for help.

The flight crew then asked passengers on the plane if they had any medical training. A psychiatrist and two nurses responded, and tended to Griffin Gutwa, who by this point wasn’t breathing, Makori said police told her.

“There’s a lot of questions I don’t know,” she said. “It’s shocking [the airline] have not called yet to give us any information.”

Makori said she wants to understand how her son came to suffer from an enlarged heart.

The family hopes a crowdfunding site, which so far has raised almost Sh500,000 ($5,000), will help fund the teen’s burial.

“We are trying to arrange for family members to come from Africa to be here for it,” Makori said.