'Could not talk to him one last time,' says grieving family of priest who was found dead in well
Mankombu (Alappuzha): "I didn't see his first phone call on Sunday. Then I called back, but he didn't pick. He went missing in the afternoon. I don't know if he had something to tell as last words..." said Joseph Kunju, the brother of Fr. George Ettuparayil who was found dead in a well in the church compound.
Hailing from Kuttanad, Fr. George was loved by the people of the area. Some of them said that the priest who gave mental support them is unlikely to commit suicide. Fr George was in US earlier and came to Punnathura Vellappally St Thomas Church in February this year.
One month ago, a fire broke out during the maintenance of the church. Four workers were injured and one of them was in critical condition. The priest was totally devastated after this incident, the locals said. Also his transfer request was rejected. He was directed to reach Changanassery diocese office on Sunday evening to discuss this matter.
Fr George used to spend an amount of his income for the welfare of destitute people when he was in US. He offered help to the people who lost houses during the flood havoc and the poor labourers in Kuttanad also. He has served as priest in 10 churches in Alappuzha, Kottayam, Pathanamthitta and Kollam districts. In Kuttanad, he served in Edathua, Thakazhi and Kayalpuram churches.
The body kept at Chethippuzha hospital in Changanassery will be taken to Thekkekkara on Tuesday morning. It will be kept in the church for the public to pay homage from 10 am to 11.30 am. The funeral ceremony will take place adhering to the COVID protocol.
The post-mortem report of the priest stated the cause of death as drowning. The autopsy was performed at Kottayam medical college. The injuries on head and arms are likely to have resulted from the fall. The water and slush filled in lungs and stomach resulted in the death. Forensic examination will be conducted to know if the water inside the body and the well are the same.
Meanwhile, Changanassery archdiocese condoled the death of Fr George Ettuparayil and informed that they would cooperate with the police investigation into the incident.