Skip to main content

Mystery over college student's death on flight back to Twin Cities

Tragedy strikes a Twin Cities family.
  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

On his way home for the winter break, Griffin Gutwa fell asleep on his flight to the Twin Cities and never woke up.

The 18-year-old was returning to Minnesota from California, where he studied at the University of San Diego, when he died during the flight on Dec. 22.

His death is unexplained as of today, though KDRTV – the Twin Cities news site covering the Kenyan community – reports that passengers seated near him saw him napping and gasping for breath.

CPR was carried out for 45 minutes by trained medical personnel who were on the plane, but they were unable to revive him.

Known to many as "Babu," a GoFundMe page set up for his family describes him as someone "who always spoke wise and put his loved ones first."

"He was the most kind-hearted person you'd ever meet and he brought joy to everyone around him," it continues. "Whatever obstacles came his way, he was able to overcome them with ease and with all faith in the Lord."

The freshman was in San Diego intending to follow a career in medicine, with plans to become a neuro-surgeon, KDRTV notes.

A former Burnsville High School student, the Pioneer Press reports his family are now trying to understand what happened during the flight.

His father, Gideon Gutwa, was informed of his death when he arrived at MSP Airport to pick him up.

"I thought I was dreaming. I could not believe it," Gutwa told the newspaper. "He was very healthy. He had just been here for Thanksgiving. We were expecting him to arrive safe."

The Star Tribune reports that an autopsy is being carried out by the Minnehaha County medical examiner's office in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, which is where the plane landed when Gutwa's condition became apparent.

Next Up

Brandon Gardas

St. Michael standoff suspect charged, bail set at $10 million

A judge on Monday set the high bail due to "very significant concerns of public safety" regarding Brandon Gardas.

20210722_hhc_570

Minnesota's premier trauma center housed at HCMC

The Minneapolis center is nationally recognized in pediatric trauma

Crisp & Green

Crisp & Green opening 13th store in Twin Cities in July

The fast-casual salad and grains restaurant has exploded onto the food scene.

FLickr - Target Field 2019 - mark grabe

Twins to host post-game concert with country star at Target Field

Country singer Cole Swindell is expected to perform for up to 75 minutes after the conclusion of the Blue Jays-Twins contest.

10974344_886755688011981_7448860726679919201_o

Canton Restaurant closes after nearly 40 years in Burnsville

It's the end of an era in the Twin Cities restaurant world.

Screen Shot 2022-06-27 at 12.47.20 PM

Luck strikes in Minnesota: lottery winners in Duluth, Grand Marais

The North Shore just so happened to be a lucky place to be this past weekend.

covid

Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Monday, June 27

BA.5 is expected to become the dominant subvariant in Minnesota.

police lights squad car

60-year-old woman arrested after firing shots inside Spicer home

SWAT evacuated nearby residents during the incident.

Florida Georgia Line

Florida Georgia Line booked to play at the Minnesota State Fair

The band is the second country music act to be booked this year.

monkeypox

First case of monkeypox confirmed in Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Health says the risk to the public is "considered low" at this time.

lightning, storm

Isolated severe weather in Minnesota on Tuesday and Wednesday

Definitely not a slam dunk either day, but the chance is there.

Related

Mystery over Mound View student's death at Arizona State

The 21-year-old died unexpectedly on April 27.

Student arrested after attack on female instructor at Twin Cities college

Another faculty member was also assaulted as he tried to intervene.

Charges: College lineman sexually assaulted drunk student after hazing incident

Charges say the invitees to a campus party were plied with alcohol all night.

Male student suspended over sex assault claim is suing colleges for gender bias

The student says he has been unfairly punished over a sexual misconduct allegation.

2 schools unite in grief over tragic student deaths

Students in Shakopee and Burnsville have experienced tragedy in recent weeks.

Charges: Student punched college instructor unconscious

The female instructor suffered two broken bones in her face.

Two years on, mystery still surrounds death of Minnesota hunter

Terry Brisk was killed with his own rifle on his parents' property.