A Bermudian-based banker lost his wife, three young children and his mother-in-law in an Ethiopian Airlines crash that claimed the lives of all 157 people on board.
Paul Njoroge found about the crash in Ethiopia when he logged on a flight checker on Sunday morning, to check that the flight from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia to the Kenyan capital Nairobi had arrived.
Mr Njoroge, who works at Butterfield Bank, lost wife Caroline, son Ryan, 7, daughter Kerry, 4, seven-month-old daughter Rubi and mother-in-law Ann Wangui Karanja.
Timothy Kandie, a Kenyan who lives in Bermuda, and a close friend of Mr Njoroge’s, said the family had left their home in Toronto on Saturday to fly home through Ethiopia.
He added Mr Njoroge had booked the flight himself and tracked the flight until it reached Ethiopia on Saturday night, before he went to bed.
Mr Kandie said: “His expectation was that when he woke up, they would have been in Kenya.
“When he logged on, he saw the news about the crash and details corresponded to the flight his family was on.
“He booked the flight himself so he knew all the details. He didn’t have to wait on anyone to confirm, but he was hopeful.”
Mr Kandie added: “Paul loved his family. Every time we met, he always talked about his family.”
Mr Kandie said he had tried to comfort Mr Njoroge after the crash, and stayed with him until he left the country yesterday for the heartbreak flight back to his homeland.
Dennis Mbelenzi, also a friend and Bermuda resident, said Mr Njoroge had last visited his family in Toronto in December, and was expected to visit them in three weeks.
He said: “He was looking forward to coming to Toronto to see his family. His life revolved around his family.
“It’s a big loss for him. That was his whole family. He really loved his family. He was always talking about his wife and children.”
Mr Kandie added that Mr Njoroge had looked forward to playing football with Ryan after being away from his family for months.
The flight crashed just after take-off from Addis Ababa, and 32 Kenyans were among the dead. Mr Mbelenzi said Kenya had been devastated by the death toll. He added: “We are basically coming to terms. It’s a big one.”
Nana Otu Turkson, of the African Community of Bermuda, said: “We are all shocked. When it does happen, you don’t think that it is close to you until you know someone who is affected. The whole continent is in mourning.”
David Steede, the pastor of the Hamilton Seventh-day Adventist Church, where Mr Njoroge worshipped, said some of the elders from the church had visited Mr Njoroge after the tragedy, and that he had prayed with the grieving father over the phone.
Mr Steede said: “I can only imagine the sorrow and the pain he is feeling. We just want his family to know that our prayers and love are extended to them at this time.”
David Burt offered his condolences to Mr Njoroge at yesterday’s sitting of the House of Assembly.
The Premier told MPs: “As a father and a husband, I cannot imagine how he must feel during this time.”
He said Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, and Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, had visited Mr Njoroge’s home to offer condolences on Sunday.
Mr Burt added: “In times of tragedy, we want the expatriate community to know that we support them.
“He is in our thoughts as he travels back home to Kenya, and we will continue to support him upon his return.”
The ACB thanked residents for the support given to Mr Njoroge. A spokeswoman said the organisation had also been “deeply heartened at the incredible level of support and concern Paul’s employers Butterfield Bank have extended to him”.
She added: “They worked with us through the night and this morning to ensure his travel back home to Kenya could be as smooth and worry-free for him as possible.”
A total of 149 passengers and eight crew were killed when the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft crashed about six minutes after take-off from Addis Ababa.
Among the dead were 18 Canadians, eight Americans and seven British nationals.
A condolence book will be available at the Honorary Consulate of Ghana office at Suite 6, 129 Front Street, Hamilton today from noon to 2pm, and at the same time on weekdays until next Friday.