The morning of December 31 will forever remain etched in the mind of Phoebe Achieng.
Achieng is among the survivors of the horrific road accident that claimed 38 lives at Migaa on the Eldoret-Nakuru highway.
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She lost her husband and three children aged two months, two and 14 years barely three hours after boarding the ill-fated bus.
And as she lay on a hospital bed in Nakuru yesterday, the fourth child still missing, her pain highlighted the cruelty of the dawn accident that shattered families and cast gloom on New Year’s eve.
Achieng is bitter that repeated protests by passengers against speeding were ignored by the driver, and the last she recalled were screams as the Matunda Sacco bus hurtled along the killer 14km stretch of Sachangwan.
She recounted the bus was zigzagging before she heard a loud bang as it rammed into an oncoming trailer - ripping off the truck’s cabin on impact and the roof of the bus collapsing as metal twisted and glass shattered.
Other witnesses said the bus had earlier been flagged down by traffic police officers due to the unusual driving but the driver explained away the out-of-control motion, claiming he had hit a bump.
He was waved on and the bus crashed 30 minutes later.
Some people died on the spot, among them 26 adults and four children.
Another 18 who sustained serious injuries were rushed to the Rift Valley Provincial General hospital and Molo sub-county hospital.
Three people died at Molo hospital and another four at Nakuru County Referral hospital.
Fresh blood covered the tarmac, with some bodies slumped inside the death cage that was the bus that had started its journey in Busia but never delivered its passengers to Nairobi, most of whom were returning to the city for new year festivities from upcountry where they had enjoyed Christmas holidays.
Other bodies of those thrown out of the bus on impact lay on the tarmac.
Achieng was trapped in the wreckage and she could see her husband, Martin Odol Kendo, 44, and two children also seemingly trapped.
“All that time I was screaming for help, I called on my colleagues to help me but none could help. I could see my husband and legs of my two children, they were trapped in the luggage. If only I had the strength I could have saved my two children,” she said, tears flowing down her cheeks.
The whereabouts of her 13-year-old second-born son, Morphat Okoth, is yet to be established.
Inconsolable following the death of Stephen Omondi, 14, two-year-old John Otieno and two-month-old Peter Shadrack, Achieng, who prayed to God asking why He had forsaken them, hopes Morphat survived the carnage.
Tears rolled down her cheeks as nurses at Nakuru Provincial General Hospital tried to console her.
She was unable to rise from the bed.
Achieng said they were returning from upcountry where they had gone for Christmas festivities.
“We were on our way back to Nairobi from Kisumu where we had gone for the holiday. Together with our four children and my husband, we boarded the bus as it left Kisumu at around 11pm,” said Achieng.
Her two children sat on a bag containing their belongings placed beside them as they held the younger ones.
The bus, according to her, was speeding and attempts by the passengers to stop the driver didn’t bear any fruit.
“The vehicle was moving at a high speed and we asked the driver to drive slowly but he turned a deaf ear,” she said.The Standard team established that the bus had worn-out tyres.