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Bus crash in Egypt kills Kennewick man

A recent photo posted on Sue Flink's Facebook page shows her and longtime friend Mike Braun smiling as he perches atop a kneeling Egyptian camel.

It was taken at the start of the Kennewick couple's annual Christmas holiday vacation overseas. They previously had spent the holidays in Austria.

But this time, their getaway ended tragically in a tour bus crash Sunday that killed Braun and put Flink in a Cairo hospital with two broken legs.

"It became a nightmare," said her sister, Colleen Cowan, who works at Finley Elementary where Flink is a preschool teacher.

Cowan learned of the tragedy Sunday evening in a phone call from Flink, who was in the hospital and still shaking from the emotional trauma.

Braun and Flink had joined a group of 118 American tourists for a three-bus caravan to the 3,200-year-old Pharaonic-era Abu Simbel temples.

But at 5 a.m., only 15 miles from Aswan, their bus clipped a truck stopped on the side of a single-lane road. Nearly the entire right side of the bus was ripped away, killing six women, two men and injuring at least 21 others.

The Los Angeles Times reported five of the most seriously injured were taken by Egyptian military helicopter to a hospital in Cairo about 430 miles from Aswan.

Braun was coordinator of the Franklin County Noxious Weed Board and a former longtime employee of the South Columbia Basin Irrigation District. He also was active with the Moose Lodge in the Tri-Cities.

Flink, 61, broke both legs, but her injuries are not life-threatening, said Cowan.

She said her sister and Braun planned to spend several weeks touring Egypt.

"It's a nightmare for us," she said, adding that Flink's daughter, who lives in Las Vegas, is traveling to Cairo to bring her mother home.

Bill Middleton, a director for the Franklin County Noxious Weed Control Board, said he was "very shocked" after learning Monday of Braun's death.

"I had visited the same part (of Egypt) two years ago, and we talked about what to visit there," Middleton said.

Braun had been with the weed control board for about eight years.

Middleton said Braun was well-liked, "had a great work ethic and was a great leader."

He built a well-structured organization that will be able to carry on, Middleton said. Braun previously worked for many years for the South Columbia Basin Irrigation District.

He also was the current governor of the Pasco-Kennewick Moose Lodge.

He grew up in Eastern Washington and attended schools in Odessa, where he graduated from high school in 1970, said his older brother, Jerry Braun, who lives in Spokane.

He said his brother and Flink had been together for more than 30 years.

"He was well-traveled. For the past three Christmases, they went overseas -- to Austria and to Egypt," Jerry said.

In addition to traveling, Braun enjoyed collecting guns and target shooting, his brother said.

Memorial services will be held in Kennewick and Odessa, he said.

Flink is well known as a career educator in the Mid-Columbia. She began teaching in Connell and then served in Starbuck, the Kiona-Benton City School district and in 2004 became assistant director of special programs for the Richland School District.

She most recently was teaching at Finley Elementary.

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