21 Jan 2013

Kenya crash students happy to be home

9:42 pm on 21 January 2013

Four students who were part of a volunteer group involved in a fatal minivan crash in Kenya are jubilant to be back in New Zealand, their principal says.

The van carrying volunteers from Tauranga-based Bethlehem College rolled into a ditch during heavy rain on 15 January, killing former pupil Caitlin Dickson, Brian and Grace Johnston, and Kenyan driver Christopher Mmata.

The group were travelling from the port city of Kisumu to the small village of Mahanga and were in Africa to help build classrooms.

Principal Eoin Crosbie said the group has been reunited with their families on Monday and will return to Tauranga in the afternoon by coach. A second group will arrive home on Tuesday.

"Jubilant to be home, absolutely delighted to be back with their families. (It was) a wonderful time in the airport lounge where we gathered and they were just able to have a long hug that was long overdue."

Mr Crosbie says he understands the bodies of those killed have arrived back in the country also.

Planning is underway for special medical transport for another group of staff and students expected to return on Thursday, he says.

The pastor of a Tauranga church Brian and Grace Johnston attended says their 10 children are coping well.

John Elen, of the Greerton Bible Church, says they have taken control of the situation and organised their parents' funerals.

"Being a large family, they're very self-sufficient. They have for a long time depended on each other and they have just been remarkable they way they're supporting each other and just working through this journey they now find themselves in."

Ms Dickson's funeral will be held on Thursday afternoon, while the service for Mr and Mrs Johnston will be held on Saturday morning.