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Estate mourns six residents killed in horrific matatu crash

RIFT VALLEY
By Rael Jelimo | Mar 14th 2014 | 3 min read

By Rael Jelimo

Eldoret, Kenya: Tuesday started as an ordinary day for residents of Kisumu Ndogo in Langas, Eldoret. Many went about their business as usual, even after they heard that 15 people had died in a grisly road accident along the Eldoret-Kisii road.

It did not occur to them that some of their loved ones might have been involved in the morning accident. Later in the day, Kisumu Ndogo was thrown into shock when it emerged that most of those involved in the crash were their neighbours.

Six of the passengers who died in the accident had lived in the estate. They included two PAG pastors, the matatu driver, his conductor, a young man and a woman.

A family of five, which survived the accident, also comes from the area.

Fredrick Odhiambo Onyango, 29, his wife Maureen Akinyi, 27, and their three children sustained only minor injuries.

Speaking from his home in Langas yesterday, shortly after he was discharged from Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, Odhiambo, who works at Rivatex, said he was grateful that they survived the accident.

“I was taking my family to visit my parents in Oyugis. That day, we woke up early and prepared our children and headed for the Kisumu Ndogo roundabout to board a matatu,” he narrated. Odhiambo sat with his second daughter and another male passenger in the driver’s cabin.

“My wife and the other two children were seated next to the conductor,” he recounted. The journey started well enough, with the driver making brief stops at Namgoi in Kapsabet and Nandi Hills towns where some luggage was dropped off.

“When we reached the meandering Chepsangor road, I noticed the driver desperately fumbling with the gears. I figured that something was amiss, but chose to stay calm,” he recalled. But as the driver kept struggling, Odhiambo asked him if all was well. “I asked him, ‘Kuna nini bwana?’ (What’s the problem?), and he answered honestly, ‘Zimekataa’ (breaks have failed).”

Odhiambo watched as the driver desperately tried to control the vehicle along the meandering road.

Deep shock

But he soon gave up and declared, “Tumekufa” (we are dead). Minutes later, the vehicle rolled down the cliff. “I held on to my daughter as the vehicle rolled three times before we were thrown out through the windscreen. My daughter landed a few metres from me,” he said.

Odhiambo heard his daughter cry for help. “I moved to where she was and held her tightly. She was in deep shock and was having a seizure,” said Odhiambo. Residents, who had run to the scene, promptly helped the two.

“A few minutes later, I saw someone leading my wife and my two children to a car. I stood up in shock because I thought they had died,” said Odhiambo.

His family is in stable condition at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital. Odhiambo, who is back at his Kisumu Ndogo home, is caring for them with the help of friends and family members. His mother and brother-in-law travelled from Kisumu to check on them. 

As Kisumu Ndogo residents prepare to bury their neighbours, they are very happy that Odhiambo and his family survived.

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