The following are separate stories as related by their loved ones about the Air Force trio who perished in a tragic plane crash in Haputale on January 3. The three were identified as Flight Lieutenant KD Lankapura Kulathunga, Sergeant Dickwella Widanage Chaminda Kumara and Leading Aircraftsman Nuwan Lahiru Dharshan Hettiarachchi.
Lankapura wanted a tasty meal that night
“We are now ready to fly. Will come home in the evening,” were the last words of the Flight Lieutenant K.D. Lankapura Kulathunga of the Sri Lanka Air Force as recalled by his elder brother Bandara Kulathunga.
Bandara said his brother had phoned his parental home and his girlfriend and given the above massage in morning of that tragic day when he was about to fly with his fellow officers.
Bandara spoke with tears in his eyes about his younger brother who was killed along with three other Air Force officers in the tragic crash. The Air Force plane crashed on January 3 in Haputale. ‘We never expected to welcome him in a coffin. He even said during his last telephone call to have something tasty for dinner” recalled his brother.
Born in Wegiriya, Kotadeniya K.D.L Kulathunga had studied in Dharmaraja College in Kandy. After completing his college education Lankapura had joined the Kothalawala Defence Academy.
"My brother faced this unfortunate incident at age 26. All arrangements had been made for his wedding to be held on March 03. He was to marry a girl from our own village. She is employed in a state bank- Brother"
“My brother faced this unfortunate incident at age 26. All arrangements had been made for his wedding to be held on March 03. He was to marry a girl from our own village. She is employed in a state bank.
“Our parents are both retired teachers. They were very eager of my younger brother’s future life” said Bandara. He said that the sad news reached them in the afternoon on that fatal day and they know nothing about how this tragic incident had happened.
Lankapura’s mother breakes down crying
Leading Aircraftsman Lahiru had a healthy family life
Nuwan’s wife, mother and father seen grieving
“A phone call came from my husband in the morning at about 8.30 a.m. when I was getting ready to go for duty. He said that he would take a call after 12 as he was getting ready to go for duty and that he would come home on 15th.
“I got to know that a plane accident had occurred in Haputale through face book while I was travelling to Matara for duty.
“At the same time, one of my husband’s friends called me and inquired where I was and asked me to return home. At that time I took a phone call to his mobile phone and there was no response,” said Dayani Chaturika (28) the wife of Leading Aircraftman Nuwan Lahiru Dharshana Hettiarachchi who died in the plane accident in
Hettiarachchi, who died in the tragic plane accident in Haputale with three other fellow members of the Air Force, had tried to prevent the plane from crashing. He was a resident of Muruthamuraya, Thelijjawila in Matara.
Hettiarachchi was an old boy of Dampella Maha Vidyalaya and the youngest member of four siblings in the family.
They had been brought up under various difficult circumstances by his father H.A. Premadasa (61) and mother Pushpa Iranganie (58). His elder brother Champika Dharsana (38) is a bus driver. His elder sister Achala Hettiarachchi (36) is married and resides separately. The other sister Geetha Shanika (34) is not employed.
Nuwan is the only one who was engaged in Government service. His wife is a nurse at a private hospital in Matara. He had got married on October 25, 2018 on a proposal. They had to face this unfortunate incident within 1 year and three months after their marriage.
"He worshiped me and went for duty. Later I knew that my precious son was figured in a tragic plane accident in Haputale. We fostered him despite grate difficulties and at the last moment I could not even see his face- Mother"
His mother said that her son had trained in Yowun Senankaya in Akuressa after his education. He had later followed a course in air condition repairing. In 2009 he joined Air Force with a willingness and got his training in Koggala and Ekala Air Force Camps. His passing out parade was held in Diyatalawa Air Force Camp.
After that he had served in Batticaloa, Nuwara Eliya and Pidurutalagala areas. “He came on transfer to Weerawila Air Force Camp six months ago. He used to come home when he was free and had led a healthy family life.
“He came home on January 1 and was getting ready to go for duty on January 2. I prepared a cup of tea and gave him. He had two sips and gave the rest me. He worshiped me and went for duty. Later I knew that my precious son was figured in a tragic plane accident in Haputale. We fostered him despite grate difficulties and at the last moment I could not even see his face,” his mother said.
The entire area has been decorated with white flags to offer condolences to him. His final rites were done at the family crematorium on January 6.
‘All our hopes are shattered after husband’s death’ Maduwanthi
While engaged in an official observation tour in a light aircraft, the Air Force sergeant Dickwella Widanage Chaminda Kumara (38) , a resident at 681, Senapura in Tissmaharamaya, breathed his last due to an accident that occurred in ‘ Ice peella’ area in Kambipillai Estate in Haputale.
When his remains were taken home, his wife Kalawana Koswattage Iresha Madhuwanthi (36) along with her two children expressed her sorrowful feelings about his demise.
“My husband’s life was the two children and me. He had sky-high hopes about our future. Before leaving home for duty, at the Weerawila Airport, he caressed the two children fondly and left. After his death all our hopes have remained as dreams” said Madhuwanthi.
When the remains of her husband were brought to his residence, the people in the neighbourhood gathered there to pay him their last respects. White coloured flags and banners were exhibited on the both sides of the road. The eyes of people who gathered at this occasion were filled with tears largely due to the weepings of 5- year- old Nethuka Damsiha and 4- year- old Udula Thihari that echoed in the surrounding.
His wife wept in the same manner. Before the accident they were in the hope of going on a long journey together in the life of ‘Samsara’( cycle of long life) .
She added that they had married after many years of love-making and added that their relationship was a strong bond. He had offered her love, sympathy and kindness towards her unconditionally. They got ready to admit their eldest son to the school this year and her husband had often talked about it. He had very high hopes of his son’s first day at school, she recalled.
"My husband’s life was the two children and me. He had sky-high hopes about our future. Before leaving home for duty, at the Weerawila Airport, he caressed the two children fondly and left-Wife"
“On January 2, he was scheduled to report for duty at Weerawila Air Force Camp . He promised his son that he would bring everything that was required for school. He had got a transfer to Colombo from January 7 but he was not reluctant to serve in any part of the country,” she said.
Madhuwanthi said that her husband was engaged in operations during war time and that he had high hopes for the country. He stressed on the fact that there should be an independent country for the country’s future generation. However, she had not thought of him leaving like this after receiving an Army salute. But, they faced an unfortunate tragedy that they had never imagined, according to her.
Sergeant Chaminda Kumara, who was engaged in active service in the Air Force for about 16 years, left his life forever bidding adieu to his dear wife and two children, parents and kith and kin including his brother and fellow staffers in Senapura village in Tissamaharamaya.