Parents of Navy Lt. David Adeyemi Sowole, 32, the co-pilot of the ill-fated Navy helicopter that crashed on Saturday sat forlorn at their 28, Akintoye Street home, mourning their son and breadwinner.
He died along with five others, including Kaduna State Governor Patrick Yakowa and ex-National Security Adviser (NSA) Gen. Owoye Azazi.
Lt. Sowoye got married on March 26, last year to Eniola. Their daughter, Teniola, was born barely nine months ago.
His parents – Prince Solomon Kolawole Sowole and his wife, Olufunke – recounted their last conversation with their son and how they heard the tragic news on a newspaper review programme in which the names of the victims of the chopper crash were announced Sunday morning.
Pa Sowole recounted the shock he went through when he heard his son’s name on ‘Koko inu Iwe Iroyin’, a Yoruba language newspaper review programme.
He said neighbours, who also heard his name on the programme, rushed to his home to commiserate with the family.
He described his son as ‘a very gentle, honest, humble, trustworthy and highly disciplined person, who does not want people to deceive other people’. ‘He was a man who believed in sincerity to all and malice to none.’
He said his death is painful to the family.
Mrs Kolawole said her son called her Friday evening and assured her that he would be back in Lagos as soon as he was through with an official assignment he was handling.
She said the late Lt. Sowole was initially due to be back in Lagos on Saturday, the day he flew in the crashed helicopter.
Olufunke said she discussed with her son for about 20 minutes on the telephone and that there was no sign that something would go wrong.
‘He called me several times and asked me to go to the hospital. When I would not go, he called his father and insisted that he must make me to go to the hospital.
‘He asked after everybody in the house. It never occurred to me that he would not be back,’ she lamented.
Sowole said when his son called him on Friday, it was from Warri, Delta State, where he went on a relief duty for three weeks. He said he had instructions to stay back in Warri because he would be involved in a special assignment.
The elder Sowole said: ‘On Friday, his mother said she was weak generally in the body and he asked me to take her to the hospital. He had earlier called my wife and they discussed. Thereafter, he asked me to arrange to take her to the hospital.
‘During the night, my wife could not sleep and was complaining of body pains. At about 6 am on Saturday, his younger brother drove their mother to the hospital,’ he said.
Sowole said he discussed with his son about his job. ‘I asked him about his job and he told me it was okay. He asked after everybody, his brothers, his sisters, his mother and every other member of the family.’
Sowole said Lt. Sowole called his wife, when he was about to board the chopper at Okoroba for Port Harcourt that fateful Saturday and assured her that he would be back soon.
According to him, the family became apprehensive when they heard the news on the radio on Saturday that there was a helicopter crash somewhere in Bayelsa State.
‘We called all his mobile phone numbers, but we couldn’t make any contact with him. When I visited his mother in the hospital, I couldn’t tell her anything because of the state of her health.
‘While we were listening to the news on the television that night, a boy came from Warri to Lagos and called his younger brother, Owolabi. I found the call rather unusual and concluded that something must have happened.
‘The boy who called asked after me. When we asked him what the matter was all about, he could not bring himself to tell me what happened. But he assured me that there was nothing to worry about, that he saw my son a few minutes earlier. Notwithstanding what he said, I was not settled.’
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