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.