On the morning that the crocodile was killed Kathy and Barbara had gone to the telecommunications office and sent another wire to the Peace Corps in Addis Ababa. They then went down to the river where the reptile was killed. It was 9 a.m. Kathy would write home, “In order to get to the place where the crocodile finally ended up we had to wade through waist deep water for twenty feet in two different places. The crocodile was big and ugly, about four meters, which is about 13 feet long. Barbara and I looked at it and left, she went back to the house and I went to the telecommunications office to wait for an answer to our cable. The rest is pretty gruesome.”

In his report, first published in 1973, Luthy would say what he found when he cut open the crocodile with his hunting knife. It is all  detailed in Eyelids of Morning. I won’t restate it. In his account Steve Buff would simply write: “Without speaking, I helped one of the other PCVs extract Bill Olson’s remains and put them in a box. Grisly as this task was, it was made somewhat less wrenching by our never having met Olson. Yet, he was one of us, an American and a fellow PCV, a young man killed by a monster, and I was numb. I moved the box a short distance and it was later taken back to Addis Ababa by Olson’s companions on an Ethiopian plane diverted to Gambella for this purpose.”

While EAL (Ethiopian Airlines) planes landed in Gambella only on Wednesdays and Saturdays, the Peace Corps had been able to reroute a flight from Dembidolla into Gambella to pick up the PCVs and the body of Bill Olson.

The plane was a a C-47, unpressurized and unbearably hot. Kathleen Coskran remembers the flight back to Addis as long and rough, and when they arrived in the capital at 6 p.m. Peace Corps staff members were waiting for them and they were all rushed to the Peace Corps office where they had to go through the whole story from the time they landed in Gambella to the time they left. On Saturday afternoon there was a memorial service for Bill Olson at the Lutheran church in Addis  Ababa.

The PCVs who had been with Bill in Gambella wrote his parents and heard later that Bill’s family asked that all of his clothes and books be given away  to students. Kathy would end her  letter home to her mother with: “It was a horrible thing, but it was just an accident like any accident anywhere else, and Africa is not to be blamed for it.”

Steve Buff would finish his account, written some thirty plus years after the tragedy, with this observation:

“There is one image that remains even more vivid and constant than the rest. After I had finished my solemn task by the carcass of the crocodile, I looked up and saw Evelyn, the woman I would marry after our Peace Corps tour.

“She was sitting on a log a short distance away, weeping. Sitting opposite and facing her was an elderly villager, also silently weeping, possibly for relatives he had lost, for himself, or out of sympathy. There was no doubt that he was weeping in concert with her. In that most exotic setting by the Baro River, with people so distant from us in history and culture, those mutual tears that finally brought home to me the tragic death of our colleague, had a profound and lasting effect on both of us.”