An Australian, killed along with his partner in a Nepal plane crash, planned to ask her to marry him after their Himalayan adventure.
Andrew Frick McLeod, 31, and his girlfriend Charlene Kate Zamudio, 24, were flying from Kathmandu into Nepal when the plane clipped a security fence while landing at Lukla’s Tenzing-Hillary airport on Wednesday.
Zamudio’s grief-stricken sister Natasha said Frick McLeod had planned to ask Charlene to marry him when they returned to Australia.
“I hadn’t told anyone this, but just before they left Andrew rang me and told me he was going to propose to her when they came back,” Natasha told reporters in Melbourne.
“He wanted me to go with him to find a ring.”
Natasha said she found out about her sister’s death when the trekking company rang the family home to ask for insurance details.
“And I said: ‘What are you talking about?’ and I was like: ‘No they haven’t died’, and he said,: ‘Oh, your embassy should’ve contacted you, they’re dead’,” she said.
The Melbourne couple, who were together for three years, had been on a six-day trek in the Himalayas and were on their way to trek around Mt Everest.
Relatives said the pair should have been on a flight three days earlier but had been delayed by lost luggage.
Frick McLeod’s father Bruno Frick said they died doing what they wanted to do.
“They were young and adventurous, full of life,” a heart-broken Frick said.
“They so much enjoyed the trek. It’s good that they’re together.
“I love them both so much. They were so full of life and adventure. It’s a tragedy.
“It was their first decent holiday together. He was really wanting to settle down and start a family.”
He said young people should not be deterred from seeing the world because of tragedies such as this.
“You’ve got to live your life – it’s love, it’s life, it’s precious,” he said.
Andrew’s stepmother Helen, spoke of the love between the couple.
“She was his sweetheart,” she said.
A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) said it was not known when the bodies of the two would be returned to Australia.
The bodies have been flown by a military helicopter to Kathmandu.
Only the pilot of the 19-seater Yeti Airlines Twin Otter survived the crash in which 18 people, including 12 Germans, were killed.
He was flown to an intensive care unit in Kathmandu where doctors said he was in a stable condition.
Nepal’s Investigation Commission will produce a report on the crash, but Nepalese officials believe poor weather may have played a part with heavy fog bringing visibility down to just 400 metres.
Lukla’s airport, which is 2,757 metres above sea level, is the gateway to Everest base camp and has a runway only 20 metres wide and 550 metres long perched on a hillside at an angle of around 11 degrees.
Fast moving weather patterns at the tiny airport mean bad conditions frequently stop services.
A German tour organiser defended the airline which, he said, had a very good safety record.
“They are the largest and one of the most reliable airlines in Nepal,” he said.