Driver of ill-fated car speaks on crash that killed Nyeri Governor

Dr Wahome Gakuru's driver Samuel KInyanjui.  [Photo: Courtesy]
Samuel Kinyanjui, the driver of the ill-fated vehicle that killed Nyeri Governor Wahome Gakuru, Wednesday recounted how the horror crash unfolded.

The driver, who sustained minor injuries from the crash, spoke to us from Nairobi Hospital.

He pieced together the last moments of the governor, recalling how Dr Gakuru sat in the car bleeding for over 40 minutes as he waited for help.

Seconds before the car smashed into the guard rail, Mr Kinyanjui recalled the governor shouting "God", but his cry was drowned by the screeching tyres and sounds of metal tearing apart.

SEE ALSO :NTSA raises concern over increased road fatalities

The driver watched helplessly as the governor, who was trapped in the wreckage, groaned in pain seeking assistance.

Rainy morning

On Wednesday, Kinyanjui gave a blow by blow account of how the accident occurred on that rainy morning as he drove the governor to a television appearance in Nairobi.

He had started the journey at around 5.30am and reached Kabati about an hour and a half later.

"We were late but the governor told me not to speed because it was raining and the road was slippery. I was driving around a speed of between 105 and 110 kilometres per hour," he said.

SEE ALSO :Pedestrians in mortal danger: NTSA

All hell broke loose when one of the rear tyres burst.

"...but as I slowed down and was steering the vehicle to the side, I realised that a lorry which was behind me was approaching at a high speed. I had to swerve suddenly to avoid the lorry which was trying to overtake me," he recollected.

He explained that he deliberately decided to ram into the guard rail.

"I thought if I hit the guard rail the car would stop. I feared that if the lorry hit me from the rear, it would push us into the middle of the road and cause a multiple cars accidents (sic).

As they were avoiding the lorry, he recounted, the car hit the guardrail and upon the impact his airbag deployed, blocking his view and rammed his foot on the accelerator pedal.

SEE ALSO :Careless pedestrians most at risk as road crashes increase

The force of the accelerating car which had already hit the guard rail forced the left front wheel of the top-of-the-range Mercedes E250 off its axle and the guard rail punctured the car’s body.

At that point the governor gasped “God!”

“I don’t understand how the guard rail got into the car,” he said.

Kinyanjui had chauffeured the governor for barely two weeks.

He explained that he had worked as a driver at the Nyeri County Referral Hospital before he was deployed to the governor's office.

SEE ALSO :11 people killed in accident at Gilgil

"I have been working with the county for four years," he said.

Police chase car driver Peter Mwaniki said when they arrived at the scene, they found car's still revving although it had been stopped by the guard rail.

“The driver's foot was still on the accelerator and he was stuck in his seat. I opened the door for the driver but he could not get out as he was trapped. The governor too was trapped,” Mr Mwaniki added.

We first rushed the bodyguard and the PA to Thika Level Five hospital. The driver joined them 40 minutes later," he added.

Last serviced

When the accident occurred, he said, he managed to escape from the vehicle and made frantic calls to Nyeri informing them that they had had an accident and asking for help securing an ambulance from Thika.

“The seat was stuck, we tried even breaking the window so that we could get him out but we were only able to do that when a lorry stopped and gave us a rope that we used to tie to the seat and rip it off,” Kinyanjui recalled.

Only then were they able to pull the bleeding governor out of the car.

The driver said the governor, who was seated at the front, had to wait for 40 minutes to be rescued.

Although Kinyanjui said he could not tell when the vehicle was last serviced, he said it was in good shape.

It was the same vehicle that had been used by Governor Samuel Wamathai and Nderitu Gachagua before him, he said, and insisted that he was not speeding.

“I was doing about 105 and 110 and the governor was comfortable with the speed and told me to maintain it since it was raining,” he said.

He explained that he was directed to always be within a 50-metre range with the chase car, which was behind them.

The journey from Nyeri was uneventful and the governor engaged in banter with the occupants of the vehicle "in his usual self".

A later examination of the scene by The Standard indicated that the guard rail snapped at the joint upon impact with the vehicle and with Kinyanjui's explanation that he was unable to lift his foot off the accelerator, one end ripped through the car.

[email protected]

Nyeri Governor Wahome GakuruCar accidentroad accidentnyeri governor diesSamuel Kinyanjui