Four people were killed on the spot and eight others seriously injured after an 11-seater matatu rammed into a lorry at Sobea along the Nakuru-Eldoret highway yesterday.
The 6am accident claimed the lives of two men and two women, all passengers of the matatu belonging to 2NK Sacco which was heading to Nakuru from Eldoret.
"The eight who survived sustained serious injuries. They were rushed to Nakuru Level Five Hospital for treatment while the bodies were taken to Nakuru County mortuary," said Rongai OCPD Japheth Kioko.
Mr Kioko said that the driver of the matatu KCF 244B vanished immediately after the accident happened and is being sought after.
"We are looking for the matatu driver who escaped from the scene after causing the accident. He should surrender himself to the police before he is arrested. The truck driver who was alone in his vehicle was not injured and will assist us in the investigations," said Mr Kioko.
The truck driver Noah Simiyu said his vehicle developed mechanical problems at 11pm on Thursday night, forcing him to park by the road side.
Mr Simiyu said he had placed life saver triangles on the road with hazard lights flashing all night to warn other road users of the obstruction ahead of them.
“Immediately I parked the vehicle I stepped out guiding other motorists on the road. It was at 3am when I got inside the truck to rest. Few minutes to 6am I heard a loud bang when the matatu rammed into the trailer from behind,” said Mr Simiyu.
On stepping out, Mr Simiyu said he found the matatu driver who appeared slightly injured struggling to free himself from the wreckage. On questioning him, the driver disappeared into nearby maize plantations.
“Four passengers had already died and the rest were wailing in pain. I tried asking the driver why he rammed his vehicle into mine but he was so terrified. He walked into the maize field and never came back,” said Mr Simiyu.
He explained that the breaking system of his trailer failed a few kilometers from the scene but he managed to steer it off the road. He was ferrying maize from Kampala, Uganda to Mombasa.
“The pressurized breaking system started failing when I was moving downhill. The vehicle was very heavy and moving it further would have been more dangerous. I tried reaching mechanics in vain and had to wait until morning,” said Mr Simiyu.
It is suspected that the matatu driver had dozed off.
Wycliffe Nyongesa, a resident, said they were alerted by the loud bang and on arriving at the scene they found four people already dead.
After evacuation of the survivors, the police had a hard time cutting through the wreckage to retrieve the stuck bodies. The matatu's left side was completely ripped off.
Residents said drivers on the route have observe speed limits during the day only for them to exceed them in the cover of darkness.
“We call on the government to reinstate the ban on night travel. Motorists are not observing road discipline in the evening and are likely to cause more deaths,” said Nyongesa.