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Georgia Southern student, 21, dies from accident at Statesboro airport
Hit by propeller after plane landed safely
accident graphic

A man who died as the result of an accident on the ground Sunday night at the Statesboro-Bulloch County Airport has been identified by the coroner as Sani Aliyu, a Georgia Southern University student who had an Atlanta home address and was originally from Nigeria.

A small plane in which Aliyu, 21, was a passenger landed safely, but he was reportedly struck by the propeller after getting out of the plane. Bulloch County 911 dispatched emergency services to the airport shortly before 10:45 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 16.  Bulloch Coroner Jake Futch, who pronounced Aliyu dead at the scene, released his identity Monday afternoon.

Aliyu had been one of four occupants of the 2005 Cessna 172S when it landed without incident around 10:35 p.m., according to a preliminary statement from Steve Kulm, public affairs specialist with the Federal Aviation Administration.

The other people on board were the pilot, a co-pilot and another passenger who was a friend of Aliyu’s, according to Capt. Todd Hutchens of the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office. Futch referred to the friend as a young woman with whom Aliyu had been on a date, and he and Hutchens said Aliyu apparently also knew the pilot and co-pilot, but authorities were not naming any of the others as of Monday.

“They flew to Savannah to go on a date, flew back, landed at the Statesboro Airport, and the young lady got off the plane and walked toward the back of the plane, and he got off the airplane and walked toward the front of the plane, and when he did, the propeller hit him,” Futch said.

The Bulloch County Emergency Medical Service responded with an ambulance, but Aliyu had been struck twice in the head by the propellor and died immediately, the coroner said.

University statement

Futch said he saw information indicating that Aliyu was originally from Nigeria.

Communications Manager Melanie Simón in Georgia Southern University’s communications and marketing office confirmed that Aliyu was a current student — a sophomore majoring in management — from Atlanta but had no information on his birthplace or national origin. Simón provided a statement from Dr. Aileen C. Dowell, the university’s dean of students and associate vice president.

“We were deeply saddened to hear about the tragic incident that involved one of our students Sunday night,” Dowell said. “I have already been in touch with his family and professors, and we have mobilized all available resources to provide counseling and any other assistance the university can give.”

Hutchens confirmed that the Sheriff’s Office had responded Sunday night and collected information but said that details would be turned over the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board.

“Nobody is really at fault or anything, it was an accident, so we just have to communicate all of our information with them,” Hutchens said.

The accident occurred with the plane stationary on the ground, near where planes are parked, he noted.


Kulm, the FAA spokesperson, in an email reply referred to the accident as having occurred “after the plane taxied onto the ramp area.”

“The FAA and NTSB will investigate. The NTSB will be in charge of the investigation and will provide all updates,” Kulm wrote.

He stated that neither agency identifies people involved in aircraft accidents. But he provided the aircraft’s registration number. The FAA registry database identifies American Aviation Inc., a dealership and aircraft services company in Brooksville, Florida, as registered owner of the four-seat, single-engine Cessna 172S.

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