A recovery mission has been launched after a 31-year-old woman accidentally slipped and drowned at Chepkiit waterfalls in Nandi County as she was taking photos on Sunday afternoon.
Dorcas Jepkemoi Chumba was swept away by the raging waters at the falls while posing for a photo by her boyfriend Benjamin Kazungu.
Kazungu said that he had taken his girlfriend out for a picnic at the famous falls to enjoy the breathtaking site of the waterfall.
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He said that they had longed to hang out at the place as they both loved adventure.
But he did not know that it would be the last time he would ever see his girlfriend.
He recounted how he was taking photos of his fiancé. Little did he know that the photos would be the last memory he would hold onto of his fiancé.
He narrated how wonderful it was watching her pose with excitement for the pictures before she accidentally slipped into the flooded dam disappearing into the waters as he tried to save her to no avail.
“I encountered the worst scene of my life. Seeing her sinking helplessly into the water and my effort proving futile breaks my heart even more,” said Kazungu.
Kazungu said the dam was full to the brim and he could not manage to save Jepkemoi.
The family of the deceased has been camping at the falls since Sunday with the hope of retrieving the body.
Efforts by local divers to retrieve Jepkemoi’s body have been unsuccessful.
“We have been camping here since Sunday, local divers have been trying, but they are yet to get the body out,” said Jepkemoi’s brother Victor Kiptoo.
Kiptoo said his sister was jovial on the fateful the day before her death as she was anxiously waiting to go for a picnic with her lover.
He appealed to county governments of Uasin Gishu and Nandi together with the national government to help the family of nine children to retrieve the body of their sister.
“Painful as it is, it has happened, and we accept it, what we are requesting is help to retrieve the body for burial,” said Kiptoo.
The incident was reported at Mosoriot Police Station in Nandi County.
Confirming the incident Nandi County police boss Samson Ole Kina said divers have been dispatched at the falls to retrieve the body.
Ole Kina said rescue efforts have been thwarted by raging flood at the dam.
He appealed to family members to be patient as rescue teams continue with the search of the missing body while advising members of the public to keep off the falls during this rainy season.
“This dam has become a dangerous place especially during the rainy season. Members of the public are advised to keep off for their safety,” said Ole Kina.
But this is not the first incident recorded at the falls.
Many young people have lost their lives at the falls.
From its name ‘Chepkiit’, the Kalenjin name means ‘view from afar’ and is a warning according to the locals of how dangerous the falls and its rocky surfaces can be.
In 2018, Kisii University student Cynthia Jeptoo slipped and fell into the waters below. Like Jepkemoi, Jeptoo was taking selfie photos when disaster struck as she was swept by the raging floods while celebrating her 22nd birthday on October 30.
A year before, a high school student from Uasin Gishu Secondary School also drowned in the same dam during a picnic ahead of sitting for the KCSE examination.
In June 2013 another Moi University student who was in the company of other students who had visited the area for a picnic also drowned.
That same year on July 6 the body of a 21-year-old student, William Onyango, was recovered from the same waterfalls.
The deceased was part of a team of students from the African Institute of Research and Development studies who had toured the waterfall.
Residents claim that on average the falls claim at least two lives annually.
Jonathan Too, a village elder who has lived in the area for decades said that more than 200 people have lost their life at the falls.
“I have been living here for the last 35 years, every year life is lost in this fall, especially during the rainy season, I have witnessed many bodies being retrieved from this fall,” said Too.
The residents now want the county government of Nandi to take charge of the falls and improve the security of visitors who visit the local tourist attraction site through the fencing of the falls and provision of tour guides.