ISTANBUL, TURKEY (April 10, 2014) – Acclaimed European Pressphoto Agency photojournalist Kerim Okten, 42, has died today after a motorcycle accident in Turkey, EPA announced.
Okten had planned to fly to Germany on Saturday for the funeral of his dear friend, Associated Press photojournalist Anja Niedringhaus, their mutual friend Bill Frakes told News Photographer magazine today. Niedringhaus, 48, was murdered last week by a Afghan National Police officer while she covered ballots being delivered on the eve of Afghanistan's election.
The Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News reports that Okten was in a motorcycle crash that was caused by a lightning strike as he rode in the northwestern province of Canakkale. The photojournalist was transported to a hospital in Ezine but despite doctors' efforts, he succumbed to his injures.
"We have lost a great friend and esteemed colleague," EPA editor in chief Hannah Hess said today. "For many within the EPA family Kerim was a beloved friend, a brother, and one of the finest. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his wife, his family, friends and colleagues."
Frakes said that Okten was the jury chair for World Press Photos sports this year, and he was also on the WPP general jury.
"Kerim was raised [in photojournalism] by Anja," Frakes said today. "I just visited him in Istanbul. The three of us worked side by side all over the world, in Germany, Japan, England, Korea, China. I'm just stunned."
Okten was born in Istanbul in 1972 and he first worked for a national newspaper before joining EPA in 1998. He was EPA's chief photographer in Turkey in 2012 when he left Istanbul for London to be EPS's new UK chief photographer. He just returned to Turkey in December 2013.
Some of Okten's photography can be seen online in this gallery assembled today by EPA to honor him and his photography.