What was to be romantic outing turned tragic for two lovebirds when a 31-year-old woman was swept by raging waters at a place that is arguably Nandi County’s most scenic site.
Dorcas Jepkemoi Chumba accidentally slipped and drowned at Chepkiit waterfalls as she posed for photos on Sunday afternoon.
Benjamin Kazungu, her fiance, said they had gone to the falls to enjoy the afternoon. The romantic picnic had been in their plans for long, only for it to turn tragic.
The photographs Kazungu took that afternoon with his phone were the last of Chumba, the exact moment she fell into the falls still edged in his memory.
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“It was the worst scene of my life. Seeing her sinking helplessly into the water and my effort to save her proving futile breaks my heart even more,” he said.
Kazungu narrated how beautiful Chumba looked as she posed for the pictures. Then she was gone in a flash, after accidentally slipping into the flooded dam and disappearing into the water.
Chumba’s family has been camping at the falls since Sunday, hoping that her body will be retrieved soon. All efforts by local divers have been unsuccessful.
Victor Kiptoo, Chumba’s brother, said his sister had been in a jovial mood that morning as she prepared for her date.
“Painful as it is, it has happened and we have accepted it. We are requesting for help to retrieve the body for burial,” he said.
The family from Kapchorua in Keiyo South, Elgeyo Marakwet County, is pleading for help from the national and county governments of Uasin Gishu and Nandi to retrieve the body.
The fall is located on the border of the two counties.
The incident was reported at Mosoriot Police Station in Nandi County.
Nandi County police boss Samson Ole Kina said recovery efforts have been hampered by raging floods and asked the public to keep off the falls during the rainy season.
“This area near the waterfall has become dangerous especially during the rainy season,” he said.
Many young people have drowned in the falls. Chepkiit means ‘view from afar’ in Kalenjin and is a warning, according to the locals, of how dangerous the falls and the rocky surfaces around it are.
On October 30, 2018, Kisii University student Cynthia Jeptoo slipped and fell into the waters. She was taking selfies when disaster struck. She was celebrating her 22nd birthday.
In 2017, a high school student from Uasin Gishu secondary drowned during a picnic ahead of the KCSE examination.
In 2013, a Moi University student drowned one month after the body of a 21-year-old William Onyango was recovered from the waterfalls. Onyango and his fellow students from the African Institute of Research and Development studies were on a picnic.
Residents claim that the place claims 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 lives at the falls.
“I have witnessed many bodies being retrieved from this fall,” Too said.
The residents want the county government of Nandi to take make the area secure and safe for visitors by fencing it and providing tour guides.