At 6am on Sunday, February 20, CITAM pastor Martin Mbandu received a phone call from his son.
Mbandu considered it strange, bearing in mind his son had never contacted him that early. There must have been trouble, he suspected.
“Is everything okay?” he asked his son.
“Everything’s fine except [that] Catherine (Mbandu’s daughter]) has been involved in a road accident and is stuck in a ditch. She is yet to be accessed,” he said.
The pastor’s daughter, Catherine Achayo Mbandu, was among four people who were involved in an accident that fateful Sunday morning.
Their car, a Nissan Sport Utility Vehicle, hit a roadside wall on Ngong Road bridge, plunging into a railway track near Dagoretti.
Mbandu quickly informed his wife, Rachel Mbandu. The couple, thereafter, rushed to the accident scene, clinging onto hope that their loved one was still alive.
“I called all my family members and some of the pastors and asked them to intercede for our daughter, who was trapped in the vehicle,” Rachel said.
On arrival at the accident scene, they parked their vehicle across the street.
Mbandu disembarked, urging his wife to remain inside the car. She was, however, anxious and could not stay behind, following her husband consequently.
In a desperate attempt to know if his daughter was still alive, Mbandu crossed the police crime scene tape, where three bodies had been covered in a blanket.
One by one, he uncovered them, but none was Catherine’s.
“The police tried to stop me but I told them that I needed to look for my daughter,” he said
The law enforcement officers would inform him of a woman who was still trapped inside the wreckage.
He gathered courage and jumped right into the ditch. He was heartbroken to see his daughter on the back seat of the ill-fated vehicle.
“She’d wrapped her hands around herself. Her forehead was cold. I asked her to open her eyes, but she did not. I prayed, hoping she’d come back to life, but that didn’t happen, she’d indeed succumbed to her injuries,” he said.
Mbandu struggled to come to terms with his daughter’s death. They had talked the previous day, and she had promised to come home and introduce her Canadian boyfriend. Fate, however, stopped that from happening.
Upon confirming that his daughter was lifeless, Mbandu walked up to his wife and broke the sad news, leaving an inconsolable Rachel weeping uncontrollably.
“When the wreckage had been lifted from the ditch, I told them (police) not to put my daughter on the tarmac road, and that they should hand her body over to me… So, we received our baby and took her to Montezuma [Funeral Home]. I didn’t want her to be taken to City Mortuary [where accident victims are preserved],” he said.
A postmortem conducted the following day (Monday, February 21) revealed that Catherine had a broken spine and had suffered internal injuries.
“Had she lived through these injuries, it would have been a pain to her and the family,” the pathologist told Mbandu.
At the time of her death, Catherine was in the company of two Canadian nationals and a Kenyan, Eddy Onyango, who all perished in the crash.
The four had earlier attended their friend’s birthday party.
Mbandu blames the accident on negligence by the Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA), saying that Ngong Road has become a blackspot that has claimed many lives.