The body of a Kenyan athlete who died in Mexico while trying to rescue a dog that had fallen into a dam has finally been returned to the country for burial.
Josephat Kibet Ngetich drowned on December 14, 2023, in the dam of a farm where he was working.
His family in Taabet village, Bomet Central Constituency, Bomet County, had been unable to raise the Sh3 million needed to repatriate the body. But the government stepped in and arranged for the repatriation.
It was both an exciting and sad moment for the family as they received the 37-year-old's body at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi on Friday evening.
“Sadly, we are receiving my son in a coffin yet he left the country healthy with the hope that he would turn around the fortunes of the family. I am grateful for the support we have received from all the well-wishers,” said Pauline Nowa, the athlete's mother.
The athlete's widow, Janet Ngetich, said the family was grateful for the support of the Kenyan government and Mexican authorities in bringing Ngetich's body home for a proper burial.
"We will forever be grateful to the Kenyan and Mexican authorities for the support they have given us," she said.
Bomet Central MP Richard Kilel was among those at the airport to receive the body.
The body has now been taken to the Longisa County Referral Hospital mortuary for preservation.
The deceased last communicated with his family through a video call on November 17 and had expressed hope that he would soon be able to travel home to be with his family.
Ngetich had been away from home for the past 17 years, with travel made difficult by the loss of his travel documents in Mexico.
He retired from active athletics after suffering a knee injury in 2006.
Ngetich competed in various road races and the 3,000m steeplechase.
Records available from World Athletics show that the deceased took part in several races in South America.
The medals and trophies he won in the various races take pride of place in the living room of his semi-permanent home in Balek village, Bomet County.
Ngetich won the Saltillo Coahuila Half Marathon in both 2005 and 2006. He also won the Monterrey Half Marathon in 2006 and finished second in the Zapopan, Benito Jaurez Half Marathon in Zapopan the same year. In 2008 he won the Belo Horizonte 10km race.
He has also participated in other important international races.
John Kimetto, the Athletics Kenya Bomet branch chairman, said the sporting fraternity was grateful for the support given to the deceased athlete and his family by the Kenyan and Mexican governments.