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Funeral mass for Bristol helicopter co-pilot holds without corpse

The family of Capt. Peter Bello Jnr, the co-pilot of the Bristol helicopter that crashed in Lagos lagoon on  Wednesday last week, held a funeral mass in Calabar on Thursday without the deceased's corpse.

As early as 10am, family members and friends had gathered at the Magaret Ekpo International Airport in Calabar, Cross River State, to receive the corpse but they had to leave around 3pm for St. Patrick's Catholic Church in the Ikot Ansa area of the metropolis, when it became obvious that the corpse would not arrive from Lagos.

No reason was given for the delay in bringing the corpse.

At the church funeral service, which commenced at about 3.30pm, tributes poured forth for the 26-year-old co-pilot of the ill-fated Bristow Helicopter.

Delivering his homily at the funeral mass, Rev. Fr. Patrick Corcoran, who drew his Bible reading from John 14:1-6, admonished Christians not to allow their hearts to be troubled, but to have faith in God.

He read, "In my father's house, there are many dwelling places. If there were not, I would have told you.

"And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am, you also may be."

Corcoran consoled with the family and urged them to be thankful to God that their son died as a Christian.

After the church service, both parents of the co-pilot, Mr. and Mrs. Peter Bello, refused to grant interview.

But the father had, however, said during the service, "We thank God that in the last 26 years, we shared wonderful times with you. We thank God for your life and all it meant to us. We can only live with these memories.

"We are confident, blessed that God has better plans for us because He is a good God. Lord, help us to know you more. All we wish and pray is that your death brings others to know who God is. God is sovereign. We love you, we miss you. Rest in the bosom of the Lord."

Bristow described him as a shining star.

The company's Lagos Base Manager, Captain Ayo Oni, in a tribute, said the late Peter was one of the few cadets who felt very comfortable with the controls especially for his experience level and his eagerness to know more.

"He was never late for flights; never had an excuse not to fly, it was his passion," he said.

A relative of the deceased, Mrs Femi Bello, said death took the young pilot too early when his services were most needed at Bristow.

She prayed for the soul of Bello to rest in peace.

A family friend, Mrs Theresa Okon, said the late Bello was a celebrated pilot, who devoted adequate time to his job.

Okon enjoined the family of the deceased to be courageous of the fact that their son left a significant mark on his profession.

The late Bello was the co-pilot of the Bristow Helicopter 5NBDG that crashed with 12 passengers on board, leaving six dead.

He was born on July 4, 1989, in Calabar to the family of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Bello (Snr.), who both hail from Cross River State.

He gained employment as a trainee pilot with Bristow Helicopters in 2013 and got his flying licence in 2014.

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