Soldier, two sons in quarry accident to be buried today

(L-R) Vincent Muchui-2nd born, Joseph Kithinji-1st born, Julius Murithi-last born and their father James Meme during a visiting day at Chuka Boarding School. [Courtesy]
A soldier and his two sons who drowned inside a military barrack will be buried today at their rural home in Keigoi, Igembe South constituency.

James Meme Kobia, 38, and his sons Joseph Kithinji, 11, and Vincent Muchui aged seven, died on Tuesday last week.

The three drowned in a flooded quarry inside the Kenya Defence Forces’s Thika Garrison, about 100 metres from the staff quarters.

Police said bodies of the three were recovered at 11pm after an eight hour operation by a Disaster Response Unit from the KDF headquarters.

Four-year-old Julius Murithi, the family’s last born, said he watched as his brothers dived into the flooded quarry.

Muchui is said to have jumped into the quarry first. When he took too long to resurface, his brother Kithinji got worried and jump in to rescue him. Murithi then ran back to the house to inform his father about the incident. He found his father sleeping.

Sgt Meme, who had served in the military for 17 years, is said to have picked a used tyre, which he intended to use as a floater, and jumped into the quarry only to drown alongside his two sons.

“They wanted me to join them in swimming but I refused. After Muchui drowned, Kinjinji got into the water to get him. When both of them did not get out, l went and informed my dad,” said Murithi.

The children’s mother, Eunice Karambu, 37, who was away at a clinic in Thika, is said to have attempted suicide after the body of her husband and two sons were retrieved.

According to Meme and Karambu’s families, KDF at first kept information about the deaths secret. Karambu’s father, Henry Mworia, said he first learnt about the incident through the social media.

The military also tried to keep the incident away from the media and denied journalists access to the quarry.

The police signal on the incident indicated a report was filed around 7pm at Makongeni Police Station by Corporal Stephen Meleji of the Military Police.

Although they died the same day and in similar circumstances, the three will be buried in separate graves.

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military barrackJames Meme KobiaKenya Defence Forces’s Thika Garrison