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'Ultimate Experiences' Crash Kills 5 on Kenyan Island

American entrepreneur just started marketing the trips
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 5, 2019 3:53 PM CST
A lakeshore archaeological dig near Lake Turkana in Kenya.   (AP Photo/Nature, Rhonda L. Quinn)

(Newser) – A helicopter crash in Kenya killed four Americans, including an entrepreneur who recently had gone into business there offering travelers "ultimate experiences." The crash, which also killed the pilot, occurred on Central Island in Lake Turkana, NBC reports. Asher Burke, seven tourists and friends, and two pilots had gone to the island in two helicopters Sunday evening to sip cocktails while watching the sunset. As the weather, including winds, grew worse, the group decided to make the short flight back to prevent being caught on the island overnight. One helicopter landed safely; the Kenyan military found the wreckage of the other hours later. Burke's family said in a statement that he died "as he lived, in an extraordinary way, watching the sunset, surrounded by people he loved, in his favorite place in the world."

Burke had gone to Kenya for the first time just six months ago. He later went back with the idea of offering helicopter safaris, buying a share in a camping lodge and enlisting a helicopter tour company. The 28-year-old San Diego native had already started a digital marketing agency, per CNN. His idea was to have small helicopters traveling without a set itinerary, said a friend whose brother also died in the crash. The tourists could land anywhere they wanted, the friend said, "to explore Africa in this incredible way." He described the trips: "You just fly and every 15 minutes or so you just get out—on a volcano you’ll stop, on a riverbed you’ll stop—and go and talk with a local tribe that probably have not had a lot of interaction with the modern world." Burke's family said he had found Kenya to be "the closest thing on Earth to heaven, a transcendent experience"—one that he wanted to share. (Also killed in the crash: a young Colorado political consultant.)

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