San Diego

3 Americans From San Diego Dead in Kenya Helicopter Crash

The United States Embassy confirmed the deaths of the four Americans and the names of three of them

Three San Diegans were among four Americans killed in a helicopter crash on an island in Lake Turkana in northern Kenya, police said Monday.

San Diego residents Anders Asher Jesiah Burke, known to family as Asher, Brandon Howe Stapper, and Coronado resident Dave Baker were in a helicopter that crashed in Central Island National Park soon after takeoff on Sunday, Kenya's Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement.

The United States Embassy confirmed the three men died in the crash along with Colorado resident Kyle John Forti. The local pilot was also killed. 

Baker remained unnamed until Monday evening when Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey, a close friend of all three men, confirmed in a Facebook post that he was also killed.

Three San Diegans were among four Americans killed in a helicopter crash in Kenya. NBC 7's Bridget Naso has more on this developing story.

"Dave was an amazing family man, businessman, and adventurer. He had an infectious laugh and made friends wherever he went. Dave lived life to the fullest," the post from the mayor read. 

"My thoughts and prayers go out to all of Dave’s loved ones, as we all try to make sense out of this tragic event. I will miss Dave terribly." 

Baker was described by Bailey as "one of the happiest people you will ever meet." He leaves behind two children. 

San Diegans are among four Americans killed when a helicopter crashed in northern Kenya. NBC

All three San Diegans were entrepreneurs and described by loved ones as adventures. All four men on the trip were best friends, Stapper's brother, Brandon, told NBC News. 

"If you knew Brandon and Asher and Dave, one of the things you knew about them is that they lived life to the fullest," Bailey said.

NBC News reported that the three local men were avid travelers who often documented their trips on social media, recently showcasing a number of videos and photos from their visit to Africa. 

Both Burke and Stapper had established businesses in San Diego. Stapper got his start as an entrepreneur in the printing business, according to his website. Burke founded his company Ads Inc. Media, now known as Bland, in 2015, according to his LinkedIn profile

Burke's sister, Jarah, told NBC News that the name Asher means happiness and that her brother "lived more than anyone she knew." 

A friend of Stapper described him to NBC 7 as humble and generous.

"He was so generous and not only with his time but he was generous with his finances," friend Ingrid Rainey said. "He was always willing to help. He never thought he was above anybody."

Rainey said she felt blessed and honored to call Stapper on of her good friends.

Sophie Felix with America’s Children of Fallen Heroes, an agency that Stapper worked with, said the agency was deeply saddened to hear of his death.

“He was a wonderful entrepreneur, world traveler and inspiring friend to our San Diego community. How he lived his life by spreading happiness and joy to others was admirable and Brandon will be greatly missed," Felix said.

The crash happened when two helicopters took off after a visit to the Lobolo tented camp, according to an internal police report seen by The Associated Press.

One helicopter lost contact soon after takeoff and crashed around 8:30 p.m. The other helicopter was carrying Burke and Baker's girlfriends, and Stapper's wife, and landed safely, NBC News reported.

Baker's girlfriend reached out to Bailey and let him know that their helicopter was missing, and Bailey passed the information along to the U.S. Embassy in Kenya.

The aviation authority said a search and rescue mission found the wreckage shortly after 3 a.m. with no survivors.

An investigation was underway into the cause of the crash, the country's aviation authority said.

Last month two Americans were among five people killed when their plane crashed as they were traveling to Lodwar near Lake Turkana. Kenyan police had reported three Americans killed but the U.S. Embassy confirmed two.

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