It was about a few minutes past midnight when the heartbreaking call that would send Standard Group reporters to burn the midnight oil covering a horrific road accident came through.
A junior police officer had just called one of our team members and informed him about an accident involving a Nairobi-bound bus and a lorry.
The voice was shaky as the officer claimed that several bodies were lying on the tarmac at Pala along the Kisumu- Kericho road.
The reporter immediately called the Kisumu Bureau Chief John Oywa who answered in a flash and quickly mobilised the team from Standard Digital, KTN and Radio Maisha.
Within 20 minutes, the entire team was already up with the bureau chief coordinating the coverage.
Despite living miles apart in the lakeside city, within about 40 minutes the team had already hit the road and passed by the Nyando County Hospital.
The team comprised Denish Ochieng, yours truly, Nicholas Mburu, Yusuf Gowi, Kepher Otieno and Collins Odiwuor.
The plan had been that a reporter and a photographer were to camp at the Nyando Sub-County Hospital to wait for victims as the other team rushed to the accident scene.
As the team approached the accident scene Pala, ambulances sped past to the hospitals.
At about 1:40 am, the team was already at the scene where several officers, as well as tens of locals, were also helping with the rescue mission.
The scene was heartbreaking. Pools of blood were everywhere on the tarmac with clothes soaked in blood also lying in the wreckage of the Eldoret Express bus as well as the lorry.
A few locals were weeping as others stood in shock as they struggled to come to terms with the tragedy that ended the lives of 13 people on the spot.
This came even as a number of them decried the slow response by the police and the medical personnel to arrive at the scene.
Joseph Ouko, a driver who witnessed the accident told The Standard that victims of the crash remained helpless for more than an hour before help came.
“It was heartbreaking. We managed to remove some of the victims from the vehicle but there was little we could do to help them,” said Ouko.
His comments were shared with other residents who claimed that some of the victims bled to death because of lack of emergency aid.
They claimed that they did not have the means to take the victims to the hospital for treatment and waited until the first police Land-Cruiser reached the scene.
The team interviewed several people at the scene including Regional Police Commander Vincent Makhoka who confirmed that 13 people had died on the spot.
Makhoka claimed that bright lights from the truck contributed to the accident.
“The bright lights from the truck confused the driver of the bus and it resulted into a head-on collision,” said the officer.
After taking pictures and interviewing witnesses and the authorities, the team rushed to the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH).
Some 14 victims had been brought at the facility and they were struggling with various injuries with most of them having deep wounds. The team interviewed several survivors who were in stable condition.
The survivors recounted the last moments before the crash and how their journey from Uyoma to Nairobi had been plagued with a series of delays.
Some of them claimed that the driver of the ill-fated bus had been speeding while others were fast asleep and found themselves lying by the roadside s after the crash.
Do not miss out on the latest news. Join the Standard Digital Telegram channel HERE.