‘My sister died on her way to collect a job appointment letter in Eldoret’

Ngata Bridge Accident

Wreckage of one of the matatus involved in the Ngata Bridge Accident. Inset: Celestine Awuor, a KCA University student who perished in the Tuesday evening accident.

Photo credit: Nation Media Group

When Celestine Awuor bid her brother bye on Monday at 2pm and boarded a matatu, she was jovial, having secured a job so that she could save for her school fees.

The KCA University student left Nairobi for Eldoret, where she was supposed to be picked up by her brother-in-law, but she never made it; she was among the eight people who lost their lives in the Ngata bridge accident on the Nakuru-Eldoret highway.

Her brother-in-law, Mr Anthony Onyango, who is yet to come to terms with her death, said they were in constant communication that afternoon. They last spoke at 5pm when Awuor, an agriculture student, told him she had just arrived in Nakuru City.

However, he soon watched a news item on TV about an accident, prompting him to call Awuor to check on her whereabouts, but the phone went unanswered, worrying the family.

“By the time of the news, she was supposed to have arrived. When our calls were unanswered, we knew something was wrong. I told my wife (her sister) that I would rush to Nakuru in the morning to see if she was among the injured. I could not sleep,” he said.

Mr Onyango took a matatu to Nakuru, arriving at 2am and proceeded to the Nakuru Teaching and Referral hospital.

Awuor was not among the accident victims who had been received at the hospital. He was referred to Nakuru City Mortuary, and that is how he knew he had lost his sister-in-law. He immediately told her brother, with whom she was living in Nairobi.

At the Nakuru City Mortuary, Mr Onyango had a difficult time identifying Awuor’s body. The bodies from the accident were in a bad state. Awuor’s body was only identified by the clothes she wore.

“At the hospital, I was told that there was another accident that happened last week, I just plead with Kenha [Kenya National Highways Authority] to look at that stretch. I have lost a person who was very dedicated to her studies. She was raised by a single mother who struggled to pay school fees but that never deterred her from working hard,” he said. Rose Mwende Koech, 60, had travelled to pick up her eight-year-old granddaughter in Nakuru City, who was to spend the holidays with her.

They were meant to alight at Mau Summit Junction. Mr Philip Rotich, who spoke on behalf of the family, said Mwende left her home in the afternoon but, after a few hours, the family was told that she had been involved in an accident.

Mr Rotich proceeded to the hospital, but was referred to Nakuru City Mortuary, where he found her body.

“The child is the one who called her parent and told them that they had been involved in an accident and that she was in the hospital, but she could not trace her grandmother,” said Mr Rotich.

Mwende’s husband, Mr Joe Koech, who attended the post-mortem, said the couple was supposed to celebrate their 31st wedding anniversary on Wednesday. He said his wife left home for town after their daughter asked that she pick their grandchild up.

Mr Koech asked Kenha to redesign the Sobea-Ngata stretch to stop more lives being lost there.

Nakuru County Teaching and Referral Hospital Medical Superintendent Aisha Maina said the facility received 21 accident victims, some in critical condition.

Eleven patients who had suffered soft tissue injuries were treated and discharged the same night, while 10 were admitted for further care.

Dr Maina said that, among the 10 patients admitted to the hospital, four were children — three girls and a boy — while six were adults; five men and a woman.

“Currently, we have eight patients at the facility who are all stable,” she said.