Authorities are trying to figure out what killed a college freshman on a flight home from California to the Twin Cities.

Griffin "Babu" Gutwa, 18, of Burnsville, was stricken Dec. 22 as he was returning to Minnesota for winter break from Southern California, where he was attending the University of San Diego, according to his family.

Passengers seated near Gutwa during the Delta flight saw him napping and then gasping for breath, family members told, a Twin Cities-based news website popular with Kenyan émigrés.

Flight attendants came to his aid and found medical professionals on board who began resuscitation efforts, KDRTV reported the day after Christmas. After 45 minutes, the plane made an emergency landing in Sioux Falls, S.D., where Gutwa was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead.

Results from an autopsy in Sioux Falls by the Minnehaha County medical examiner's office have not yet been released.

Gutwa, a graduate of Burnsville High School, "was an intelligent 18-year-old who always spoke wise and put his loved ones first," read an online fundraising campaign started on behalf of Gutwa's family.

"Whatever obstacles came his way, he was able to overcome them with ease and with all faith in the Lord. He was a hard worker who did his all to better the life of his family."

Funeral services for Gutwa are scheduled from 3-6 p.m. Jan. 7 at Southview Seventh-day Adventist Church, 5750 Wentworth Av. S., Minneapolis.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482