Tragedy as teenager drowns in Chania river while taking a selfie

Part of Chania River that passes through Aberdare Forest within Aberdare National Park. [Caroline Chebet, Standard]

Grief has struck a family in Gwa Kamunyu village in Gatundu North, Kiambu County after their 16-year-old daughter drowned in Chania River.

The teenager, a Form Three girl at St Joseph Ndithini Secondary School in Machakos slipped into the river while taking a selfie on Tuesday evening.

She was in the company of her two friends, who raised an alarm prompting a search and rescue mission by the locals, which was however hampered by darkness and huge boulders in the river.

The minor, according to her grandfather, Njau wa Sam had earlier packed up as she prepared to report back to school on Wednesday before she joined her friends for a photo session at the river.

“They left for the river on Tuesday evening to take photos. We were alerted by her friends that she had slipped into the river while taking a selfie. We couldn't rescue her because it was already dark and the location where she fell is highly dangerous, deep, and with huge rocks,” Njau said.

“We are pained by the untimely death of such a young girl who had big dreams of excelling in her studies and later helping out her mother,” her grandfather added.

Locals on Wednesday camped at the River in search of the girl's body, a task that proved tedious due to the huge boulders at the site and the lack of proper gear to dive into the deep waters.

“We don't have proper gear or expertise to get into the water. We fear that we might also slip and get trapped,” said Daniel Gitau, a member of the rescue team.

The residents claimed that the spot, which is an attractive scenery, has been a death trap, noting that two years ago, another resident died after slipping and drowning. He fell into the river while crossing.

“Retrieving his body took weeks because it was trapped under the rocks,” said Hannah Wairimu, a resident. Wairimu cautioned youths and school-going children in the area to avoid visiting the river alone to avert such tragedies.

Residents pleaded with the local authorities including the Kiambu County Government to intervene and help retrieve the girl's body.