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Painful questions linger as Nakuru parents mourn teenagers in New Year crash

RIFT VALLEY
By Karanja Njorge and Mercy Kahenda | January 3rd 2016

NAIROBI: A police officer has confessed that one of the five teenagers killed in a road accident at a black spot in Salgaa, Nakuru County, on New Year’s Day was driving his car which they had hired. Julius Kioko, an Administration Police Officer, said the teenagers — Kevin Kamuri Chege, Bill Kamau, Brian Ndungu Kariuki, Derrick Mbugua and Dominic Mwangi — must have picked the car from one of his friends.

But in a strange twist, the officer said he had lost his friend’s contact. “I do not have his contacts. I lost them,” the officer said when pressed about the friend he had given the vehicle.

“I gave out the vehicle to my friend at around 8pm on New Year’s eve only to learn the following day at around 9am that it had been involved in an accident as it was being driven by youths,” said Mr Kioko, as it emerged that none of the teenagers had a driving licence.

Reconstructing events before the accident, Rongai OCPD Joseph Mwamburi said Chege, 19, was behind the wheel when the car with Uganda registration plates rammed a Bungoma-bound bus.

Four of his friends died while three — Robinson Momanyi, Gift Gabriel Mukoma and Bulea Angare — survived.

Thursday, parents of the deceased said they were shocked to learn of the incident as they knew the teenagers had gone to church to celebrate the New Year.

Their bodies lay on the cold slab of the Nakuru County mortuary.

Sixteen-year-old Kamau’s mother Emily Wanjiru muttered to herself. “He is dead. He is gone. So painful,” after viewing the disfigured body of her son.

“We parted at around 8pm after dinner when he told me he was going to attend a church service at Revival Fellowship Church 500 meters away from our home at Kiti estate,” said Ms Wanjiru who gave him Sh100 for tithe.

“This death is very painful, I have no words. But it could have been prevented had officers been responsible. Why were the boys allowed to drink without identification cards? Where were the officers who administer alcohol blow and arrest drivers every Friday?” she posed.

“The boys were driving along the busy Salgaa route in a vehicle bearing a Ugandan registration number plate belonging to an AP attached to Njoro. Why was the vehicle given to boys who do not have a driving licence?” she asked.

Kevin Kamuri’s father Peter Chege was distraught, and said he last saw his son on December 31st when they had breakfast.

“This news is a big loss to my family. He is my first born son and I am at loss,” he said about his son who sat the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) last year and was expecting his results in March.

Brian Ndungu Kariuki, 17, had also sat his KCSE at Natewa High School in Nakuru last year and on the fateful day his father Peter Kariuki allowed him to attend a get-together with former schoolmates at a nearby hotel with instructions to alert them when the function was over.

However, at around 1am when the father called Brian his phone had been switched off. He learnt about his death at around noon on Friday from a doctor at the Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital.

“The news was and still is shocking, it takes strength to absorb,” said the father of the first born son in a family of three.

“This is a boy I had mentored, he was so jovial and got on very well with her mother and his younger siblings,” narrated Mr Kariuki

Brian’s mother, Stella Kariuki was in tears as she mumbled. “Please, you can’t leave... Come back... please.”

“My son is only 17 years. I have never seen him drive. I am not also sure where his peers hired the vehicle from,” she said.

Eighteen-year-old Derick Mbugua’s father, who was at the mortuary, would not speak to the media, while Dominic Mwangi’s parents did not come to view the body yesterday.

One of Dominic’s friends Ombiro Kerosi says he escaped death narrowly.

“Four of those who perished were my close friends and I am still trying to come to terms with the tragic event,” he said struggling to contain tears.

He said they had planned for a night of fun to usher in the New Year. “It is unfortunate and I am still in shock," he said.

Nakuru police boss Hassan Barua said they had launched investigations into the incident after receiving information from the public that the vehicle belonged to an officer.

“We are following the matter and have sent out officers to record a statement with the said officer but for now I cannot confirm or deny whether the vehicle belonged to him,” he said.

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