'I love you': Last panic messages of Pwani varsity students in ill-fated bus shared on TikTok

Survivors recall last moments inside ill-fated Pwani University bus

When it was apparent that the end was near and that she might not survive, Destiny Dina filmed what would be her last moments alive, and posted the videos on TikTok.

She, together with 13 others, perished on the spot when the Pwani University bus that was headed for Eldoret crashed, tragically bringing to an end the journey.

Dina is among the members of the Pwani University team that was to represent the school at the national Kenya University Students Association (Kusa) games at the University of Eldoret.

The institution’s bus hit a 14-seater matatu in Kayole area of the Nairobi-Naivasha highway before landing in a ditch.
A journey that had started at midnight on Thursday was halted fatally and abruptly, and with casualties.

The video taken by Dina, a third-year student at the School of Science, shows her strapped in a seat belt, leaning towards the window, and looking calm and composed. She appears to have made peace with destiny.

“I love you so much, my 100,000 followers,” a helpless Dina posted a few minutes before the bus crashed. This was to be her very last social media post.

Pwani University students seek answers on tragic bus accident

Her face bore a charming smile until the very end, said Ezekiel Musera, a former basketball team member who just graduated in February 2023.

Dina joined the basketball team when Musera was a senior student, and they struck a bond immediately. 
While Musera does not remember their first conversation, he can never forget their last.  

“I had posted a past photo of my young self online, to which she responded with, ‘Life and how it happens’”, Musera recounted.

He says he has lost a jovial and lively friend, and that the school has lost a counsellor. 

“Dina was also a peer counsellor at school. She was always ready to assist anyone where she could,” Musera said.

For over two kilometres, the accident survivors recounted, the vehicle’s braking system had failed, and the students on board had begun making peace with fate as they inched closer to disaster. It was a tense and horrific last minute.

Photo credit: Courtesy

For over two kilometres, the accident survivors recounted, the vehicle’s braking system had failed, and the students on board had begun making peace with fate as they inched closer to disaster. It was a tense and horrific last minute. 

Eerie silence

But even though they had had time to prepare for the end, a strange silence engulfed the bus as they approached Kayole area. This is when the reality of the imminent death sank in, says Ian Okoth, a survivor. 

Okoth was a member of the football team. He survived an accident some of his peers did not.

When we caught up with him, the second-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Philosophy degree was still reeling from shock. 
When it was evident that the driver had no control of the brakes, he fastened his safety belt, began to pray and quietly waited for whatever would happen next.

He thought about how tirelessly they had prepared for the sports event, and how determined they were to win.
“We were going for success. We met death,” he told Nation. “I’m grateful that I survived. I didn’t know that would be the last time I would see some of my colleagues alive. Just a few moments before the crash, they had been very jovial,” the 22-year-old footballer told the Nation from Naivasha Sub-County Hospital.

Nakuru County Health CEC Jackline Osoro said the facility had treated 76 patients from the accident. “...and, we have transferred 12 to different hospitals including Kenyatta National Hospital and Nakuru Level Five Hospital for specialised treatment.”

At the mortuary, as relatives of the victims walked in to check on their kin, occasional wails rented the already tense air, highlighting the magnitude of loss.

Death scene

At the scene of the Thursday accident where the Pwani University bus hit a PSV van, there could be seen a slipper here, a bottle of water there, a deflated ball, and blood-soaked books everywhere. A real horror.
Ole Sankale, the volleyball centre player, died too. And so did Nancy, a second-year student pursuing BA Kiswahili. She was also a footballer.

“Death chose an innocent you,” Sankale’s friend posted on Whatsapp Status.

The men’s football team’s goalkeeper also died, together with the bus driver and the games officer, only identified as Mr Ken.
Shadrack Kibet Rono, a third-year student of Education Arts, Kiswahili and History, who was attached to the games team as the photographer, also perished.

“I have lost a personal friend,” Hiram Kemei, a former Pwani University student leader said. “I can’t believe that the call I made to you yesterday was our last. I can’t believe that when you bade my bye on that morning when you left for the trip, it was your goodbye.” In the same bus was Xavier’s girlfriend. She sent him an SOS message in the heat of the moment.

“Gari break imekataa kushika,” she texted her boyfriend, adding three crying emojis. Xavier asked what speed the bus was driving at. His girlfriend did not respond. And that was the last conversation between the two lovebirds.

The scene where the Pwani University bus accident occurred along the Nairobi--Nairobi Highway.

The scene where the Pwani University bus accident occurred along the Nairobi--Nairobi Highway.

Photo credit: Kennedy Amungo | Nation Media Group

Female volleyballers, some male volleyballers, and handballers were in another bus, said Dorothy Chemos, a volleyballer.

“Male and female footballers were in the bus that was involved in the accident,” she went on. “I only remember seeing the driver of the ill-fated bus overtaking us on the wrong side at a high speed and wondered what could be happening. In the confusion of the moment, our driver slowed down as we started reaching out to our colleagues on the other bus,” the fourth-year Bachelor of Education student narrated.

KUSF condoles with families of Pwani bus accident

“When we stopped, we only saw a group of people quickly gathered ahead of us, so we disembarked. That is when we saw the other bus that carried some of our colleagues lying in a ditch.”

A student who missed the trip due to fee arrears told Saturday Nation how lucky he was. Students who have not paid their fees in full are not allowed to go for any sports activity. That is how he survived.

“It is believed that when you have school fee balance, then you have not paid activity fees, and therefore you do not qualify to go for any trip. I am just lucky.” 

Yesterday, Pwani University Vice Chancellor Prof Rajab Mohamed said the two buses dispatched to Eldoret University-Chepkoilel had two drivers each, and were both in good condition.

“It is important to clarify that we provide two drivers for all vehicles leaving for trips outside Kilifi County. These are seasoned drivers. The bus involved in the accident was a brand new bus, and we calibrated the speed governor in February,” he said. 
Prof Rajab said they serviced an old vehicle to avoid carrying excess students to Eldoret. 

“Unfortunately, the new bus was involved in the accident, and the old one was not. I cannot say how the vehicle developed braking problems, but it was a tragic accident and a very unfortunate incident,” he said.

Eight university students and three staff perished in the accident. Among the deceased were two drivers and the coach. Seven students succumbed in Naivasha, while one died while in transit to Kenyatta National Hospital.