Bodies due on Kenya flight today

By Genevieve Helliwell

The bodies of Caitlin Dickson and Brian and Grace Johnston are set to arrive in New Zealand today.

The three lost their lives in a bus accident in Kenya last week. They were part of a 19-strong team from Bethlehem College that was on a volunteer mission to the Ark Quest School in the small village of Mahanga.

Principal Eoin Crosbie last night said the first group of students and the bodies of Miss Dickson and Mr and Mrs Johnston were on their way to New Zealand and would arrive sometime today.

Their funerals would be held at the college at the end of the week.

Mr Crosbie said the first group home would involve the students and staff that were not travelling in the van and perhaps two more - a total of four to six people, he said.

Representatives from the college would meet the mission group in Auckland and travel straight back home to Tauranga. The second group of staff and students was due home tomorrow and another group was due "a few days after that". The final group might be home next weekend, Mr Crosbie said.

"The rest of the team are on 48 to 72-hour medical clearance, with the exception of one student." That student was Aneka Jones, who sustained a dislocated hip and fractured pelvis. Mr Crosbie earlier said she needed time to recover and the school was looking at the scenario of her staying in Kenya with support, either from a team member staying in Nairobi with her or by sending members of her family to Kenya.

Mr Crosbie said all of the flight plans were subject to medical clearances and aircraft seat availability.

In a media statement, Mr Crosbie said team leader Phil Russell, the school's associate principal, was recovering well following the accident. "He is progressing well, as are all the members. We thank God for the thorough provision of care around this group ... they are in very good hands."

Meanwhile, tributes for Miss Dickson and Mr and Mrs Johnston are still flowing in at the college.

The school has created a tribute wall for students, staff and members of the community to write messages of remembrance for their much-loved friends.

At the school's chapel yesterday messages of love, grief and praise written on coloured pieces of paper covered the wall. One note read: "Thoughts, love and prayers with all those on the BC Kenya mission trip. You have shared your heart and now we share ours."

Another read: "Our hearts go out to you and your family. May they find comfort in the fact that you have gone home to be with the Lord. Lots of Love."

Messages were also written in support of the Kenyan bus driver, Christopher Mmata, who also lost his life in the crash.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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