Remains of Missing American Pilot Retrieved

Administrative and security officials from Tombel Subdivision in Kupe-Muanenguba Division of the South West Region are still making their way out of the dense Equatorial forest near Eboko Bajo village where they went to collect the remains of a missing American pilot still stuck in the wreckage of his ill-fated small aircraft. The Cessna 172 light aircraft went missing on Sunday June 22, 2014, while on a flight from the Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano, Nigeria, to Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo, via the Douala International Airport.

The officials started off from Eboko Bajo village on the 35-km, 30-hour long round trek into the dense forest on Sunday, April 12, 2015 at mid-day after travelling through Kumba and Konye in neighbouring Meme Division a distance of over 100 km. This was informed by the inaccessible nature of the terrain from Tombel to Eboko Bajo, which is about 100 km in a straight line. Tombel is located about 150 km from Buea, the South West Regional headquarters.

The officials include the Divisional Officer for Tombel Subdivision, Ayuk Edward Takor, the Gendarmerie Company Commander for Kupe-Muanenguba, Captain Mahok, Dr Njoh of Tombel District Hospital, the Commander of the Tombel Gendarmerie Road Safety team, Lt. Akam Sylvestre and the Commander of the Tombel Gendarmerie ‘Post, ‘Adjudant Chef’ Ngouloureacute Oumarou. However, because of the difficult nature of the terrain in the dense Equatorial forest on the Kupe-Muanenguba mountain range, only the gendarmes, Dr Njoh and some villagers – a team of 12 – continued to the site of the crash, reaching it at 60 am on Monday, April 13, 2015.

Talking to Cameroon Tribune on phone from deep inside the forest yesterday, April 13, 2015, Ngouloureacute Oumarou explained that the wreckage was found by local hunters from Eboko Bajo village on April 9, 2015. This information was confirmed by the Member of Parliament for Tombel and Bangem, Hon. Nhon Ngujede Ngole Robert. The plane hit and broke a tree branch, with debris scattered all over, Ngouloureacute explained. He added that upon receiving the news of the discovery, the local village chief sent another team back into the forest to confirm the information before reporting to the authorities.

According to ‘Adjudant Chef’ Ngouloureacute, Nalovoka Oliver, Motia Ivo and third person known only as ‘Alhadji,’ made the discovery while on a hunting trip. They confirmed that the pilot of the aircraft was William Fitzpatrick, according to papers found on the spot. His insurance papers were also found in the wreckage, with his skeleton still in the cockpit. Fitzpatrick was the only one on board the plane with insignia ‘Ecogarde African Parks No. 9748N,’ Ngouloureacute disclosed.

Information from the US Embassy in Cameroon shows that the pilot collected the newly-acquired plane from Dakar, Senegal, on June 19, 2014, where it had earlier been flown from America. The plane was to be used for conservation and anti-poaching surveillance activities in and around Odzala-Kokoua National Park in Congo Brazzaville. A US citizen and experienced pilot with more than 25 years’ experience, William Fitzpatrick joined African Parks as Odzala’s resident pilot in November 2013.

Source : Cameroon Tribune

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