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Three children and their grandfather die in crash

By Munene Kamau and Lydiah Nyawira | February 16th 2016
The family of Jackson Mbutu mourn their father and three children at their home in Kirinyaga yesterday. The deceased were run over by a speeding vehicle along the busy Makutano-Embu road over the weekend. [PHOTO: KIBATA KIHU/STANDARD]

Twice a week, three children would eagerly wait by the sides of the busy Makutano-Embu road to push their grandfather home.

The bond between the two doting boys and a girl aged between 7 and 10 and their wheelchair-bound grandfather, 60, had been nurtured over the last three years.

But on Saturday, their journey came to a crashing end.

Yesterday, relatives of the old man, Jackson Mbutu, recounted how the four were mowed down by a speeding pick-up truck that veered off the road.

There was eerie silence in the family’s Kirwara home in Kirinyaga County as they contemplated the consequences of the horrific road crash.

After hitting the four, the vehicle’s driver took off but was cornered by boda boda operators some two kilometres away. He, however, managed to escape and the boda boda operators and residents burnt his vehicle to ashes.

Unique Bond

The three children, Brian Kinyanjui (10), Miriam Wambui (9) and Jackson Mbutu Junior (7) were pushing their grandfather in his wheelchair along the busy road as they had done routinely for three years.

They were all firstborns of Mbutu’s three children, who had two children each.

Mbutu, a cobbler at Makutano market, lived some 500 metres from the main road near Wamumu Approved School. He would visit the market twice a week on market day to serve his customers.

Nehemiah Mutugi, Jackson Mbutu Junior’s father, was yesterday lost in grief after losing his father and his first-born son. “Every Wednesday and Saturday — which are Makutano market days — my father would wheel himself to the market because it was the best time to cater to his clients,” he said. Mutugi, who works as a boda boda operator at the market, said his son adored his grandfather, who often offered them a ride on the back of his tricycle wheelchair.

“As a child, my father used to carry me on his tricycle wheelchair and when my son and his cousins were old enough, they too started enjoyed riding on the wheelchair and pushing their grandfather around,” said Mutugi.

For Beatrice Wamiru, 48, the loss of her husband and grandchildren has left her numb and disoriented.

During their 30 years of marriage, Mbutu was the sole breadwinner and her closest friend.

“When we met in 1986, he wooed me with his cheerful disposition. He was confined to a wheelchair after he contracted polio in childhood but his physical condition did not deter him from enjoying life,” said Wamiru.

During the interview, Wamiru was overcome by grief. She leaned on her children for support, unable to comprehend the loss she has to endure.

“My grandchildren were very close to their grandfather. Everyday, they came to visit him and help him feed the cows or assist with household chores,” said Wamiru. Diana Njeri, Miriam Wambui’s mother was in utter shock. She said her daughter, nephews and grandfather were inseparable.

“When they were younger, they would escort him to Makutano market and as they grew older, they often walked longer distances to ensure he was able to navigate the bumpy road from Makutano to our home,” said Njeri. “It was a unique and natural bond between grandparent and grandchildren,” said a mourning Mutugi.

Playful Son

Another grieving parent, Faith Wangari, Brian Kinyanjui’s mother, said her son was always playful and cheerful.

“He used to leave school and rush straight to his grandparents’ home to play with his cousins. We raised them as one family and now we have lost all of them at once,” said Wangari.

On Saturday evening as the children had always done, they met their grandfather wheeling himself home.

Upon reaching a steep hill near the Wamumu section of the highway, all the three children huddled together to help push their grandfather up. It was then that the truck hit them.

While the three children died on the spot, Mbutu was rushed to Kerugoya Level 5 Hospital, where he passed away.

“After my father was pronounced dead, the same ambulance that had taken him there took the body to the Mwea Mission Hospital Mortuary, where the bodies of his grandchildren lay,” narrated a sobbing Mutugi.

Mwea East OCPD Titus Yoma described the scene of the accident as a black spot.

The family has started making arrangements for burials of their four loved ones.

The truck driver, David Ndung’u, was arrested and charged in a Wang’uru Court with dangerous driving and causing the death of the four family members. He was released on a Sh500,000 bond.

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