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Hellen Wendy: Kenyan nurse who drowned during Facebook Live

Hellen Wendy Nyabuto died aged 24 in Toronto, Canada on August 18, 2022. [Courtesy]

The father of 24-year-old Canada-based Kenyan nurse, Hellen Wendy Nyabuto, has confirmed her death.

On Thursday, Hellen, who was based in Toronto, livestreamed her swimming session on Facebook before drowning in scenes distressing to her viewers.

Hellen drowned at around Minute Ten of the livestream, but her phone, which had been placed on the edge of the swimming pool, continued to record for another three hours.

Her father, John Nyabuto, on Saturday, August 20 confirmed to The Standard that Hellen died during the incident.

Speaking at his Mesesi Village home in Bomachoge Chache in Kisii County, Ntabuto said Hellen relocated to Canada in December 2019 after securing a 10-year study visa.

“She was 24 years old. She sat her KCSE some six years ago at the Itierio Girls’ Secondary School in Suneka, Kisii County,” said Nyabuto.

“After completing her secondary education, she tried her hand at various small-scale businesses. Later, she participated in the green card lottery programme. That’s when she secured her visa to Canada,” said the grieving parent.

“Upon her relocation to Canada, I was hopeful that she’ll get a job and help me educate her younger siblings. During our conversations, she’d tell me that life in Canada was good. Her nursing studies paid off as she got a part-time job.

“She used part of her income to pay her tuition fee and also sent some to us,” said Nyabuto, a retired teacher.

Nyabuto, who is in his sixties, said on Thursday evening he received text message from Hellen’s friend in Canada informing him that his daughter had drowned in a swimming pool.

“Later that evening, Canadian officials called to inform me that Hellen was receiving treatment in hospital,” said Nyabuto.

“The caller [from Canadian authorities] did not, at that moment, disclose what led to Hellen’s hospitalisation. As I was scrolling through my phone, I saw on social media a video clip of my daughter swimming before drowning, and everything went silent thereafter.

“I received another call from Hellen’s friend informing me that my daughter had been pronounced dead on arrival to hospital. The private swimming pool where she drowned wasn’t far away from where she worked.”

Nyabuto said news of Hellen’s death has shattered him.

“I’ve been crying helplessly ever since I received the news. I’m now wondering how her body will be repatriated to Kenya. I have lost a child whom I loved dearly. I don’t know how much it would cost me to have her body flown to Kenya,” said Nyabuto, appealing to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to intervene.

Hellen’s cousin, Risper Orondo, described the 24-year-old as a “humble and hardworking woman”.

The deceased’s friend, Queen Winona, told The Standard that she knew Hellen in 2018 at a driving school where they had enrolled as learners.

“She was a quick learner. During our driving lessons, she’d speak fondly about her desire to pursue education abroad. That’s when she participated in a green card lottery programme, which turned out well,” said Winona.

Hellen’s father has denied allegations that his child had a premonition of her death.

“I hear some people claiming she had said on WhatsApp that she’d soon die in Canada. As her father, she never shared with me any information that suggested she was in distress or any form of trouble,” said John Nyabuto.

Hellen’s body has been preserved at a Toronto hospital morgue, her father said.

The firstborn child leaves behind five siblings.