Man who died alongside 'girlfriend' in Juja dam car plunge identified

The fatal plunge occurred on January 17, 2023 in Juja, Kiambu County. [Gitau Wanyoike, Standard]

The man who died on Tuesday, January 17 at Titanic Dam in Juja, Kiambu County alongside a woman said to be his girlfriend has been identified as Tairus Maina Gikonyo.

Gikonyo was 43 years old, and the managing partner of a Kenyan company called Hardrock Engineering that deals in kokoto (ballast), details disclosed at the Juja Police Station on Wednesday say.

Two women have since showed up at the City Mortuary in Nairobi County, where Gikonyo's body is preserved, to claim he was their spouse.

The deceased's brother positively identified him on Wednesday, January 18, The Standard understands.

The Nissan X-Trail that he was in during the fatal plunge is registered under Mahiga Africa, suggesting it could be a company-owned car.

A report filed at the Juja Police Station by one Mwangi, who introduced himself as Gikonyo's friend, said on Tuesday daytime, Gikonyo, a resident of Kahawa West, told him that he was going to Ruiru to meet his girlfriend.

According to Mwangi, Gikonyo had two partners - one who lives at Kahawa West, and another at Makongeni Estate in Thika Town, Kiambu County.

"He only told me that he was going to meet his lover, and that we'll talk later that day," said Mwangi.

Witnesses, who have since filed reports with the police, said on Tuesday 7pm, they saw Gikonyo's car reversing towards the dam.

"He reversed but stopped on the first instance. We hooted and warned him that he'd plunge into the dam. He, nonetheless, reversed for a second time and stopped on the edge of the dam. Our incessant hooting to persuade him against reversing fell on deaf ears when he reversed for the third time and sunk in the dam," said one of the eye witnesses in his report filed at Juja Police Station.

Police estimate that the woman whom Gikonyo was with during the incident was aged between 20 and 24 years.

Police have since established that between 1pm and 5pm, Gikonyo and the woman were drinking at an entertainment joint in Ruiru before driving to Titanic Dam in Murera Ward at around 5pm.

Bodies of the two victims were retrieved from the dam on Wednesday.

"The body of the man was naked, while that of the woman had clothes on," a police officer in Juja Sub-County, who took part in the bodies' retrieval exercise, told The Standard.

Gikonyo, it has been established, was born and raised in Nyeri County.

The body of the youthful woman he was with, was yet to be identified by the time of publishing this story.

The Nissan X-Trail, which they were in, was removed from the dam on Wednesday evening and towed to Juja Police Station.

Murera Ward MCA Ngatha Wambiri urged the national and county governments to fence off the dams in Kiambu to avert such incidents in the future.

"I'm urging the national government, or even the county government, to fence off the five dams in Juja. Many people usually come here to relax. However, where alcohol is involved, judgement is usually impaired, leading to unfortunate incidents that could have been avoided," he said.

Questions continue to emerge on the circumstances surrounding the sinking of Gikonyo's car in the Juja dam, resulting in two deaths.

It remains unclear what led to the car reversing into the dam without the two occupants attempting to hop out.

Was it deliberately driven into the dam? Was the gear shift mechanism on neutral and, therefore, rolled back into the dam without the occupants realising it? These are some of the questions police are seeking to answer.

According to witnesses, the vehicle was parked on the shore of the dam on Tuesday night, January 17 before it slowly began moving into the water.

Police are pursuing a suicide hypothesis in the incident, with preliminary investigations suggesting that Gikonyo and his companion could have quarreled in the car resulting in the fatal plunge.