Death at school: Bus runs over pupil at Goodrich International

Mercy Nelima

Mercy Nelima (centre) is comforted by relatives and friends while viewing the body of her son Liam Kipruto at Shalom Hospital in Athi River on February 11. Liam was run over by a bus belonging to Goodrich International School in Katani, Machakos County.

Photo credit: Pool

What you need to know:

  • Nelima found the school's driver standing in front of the bus and asked him where her son was.
  • The bus driver told her to look behind the vehicle.
  • She tried to ask the class teacher for details of what had happened, but she was reluctant to talk.

When Mercy Nelima said goodbye to her four-year-old son last Friday morning, she had no idea it would be the last time she would see him alive.

Liam Kipruto, described by the family as a cheerful and active boy, died nine hours after he last left their Katani home in Machakos County.

According to Ms Nelima, her son, who was a Pre-Primary 1 pupil at Goodrich International School, was run over by a school bus and no one was willing to give details of what happened until the school's headmaster sent a text message on Sunday.

Goodrich International School in Mavoko sub-County, Machakos, was founded by the late Gideon Kimulu Kyalo. It has branches in Kileleshwa and Embakasi.

On the fateful day, Ms Nelima had left her mobile phone charging in the house and spent most of the day with her sister. In the evening, however, she became concerned when she did not receive a call from the school informing her that her son had been dropped off at home.

Realising that it was getting late, she asked the sister to call the school and she spoke to Kipruto's class teacher, who told her that the pupils had left school as usual and that he might be at home.

"Moments later, the class teacher called my sister's phone number and insisted that he wanted to speak to me. When I was handed the phone, he told me that my son had been involved in an accident and that I should go to the scene immediately," Ms Nelima told the Nation.

Mercy Nelima

Mercy Nelima, the mother of four-year-old Liam Kipruto, after viewing her child's body at Shalom mortuary in Athi River on February 11, 2024. Liam was run over by a Goodrich International School bus.

Photo credit: Pool

Without wasting a minute, Ms Nelima got on a motorbike and went to the scene of the accident.

According to her, she found the school's driver standing in front of the bus and quickly asked him where her son was and the driver told her to look behind the vehicle.

"The first thing I saw was my son's school bag before I saw something covered with a piece of cloth. That was when I realised my son was dead," she said.

She tried to ask the class teacher for details of what had happened, but she was reluctant to talk.

She then decided to speak to the bus driver, who replied, "I wish I knew.

As this was happening, the headmaster of the school, Mr Peter Otieno Awino, arrived at the scene with police officers and they decided that the body should be taken to Shalom Hospital mortuary, a few kilometres away.

"The school management did not want to tell us what really happened and instead told us that the police officers had taken over the investigation and were the right people to tell us what to do," said Ms Nelima.

Liam Kipruto

Mercy Nelima (second right), the mother of four-year-old Liam Kipruto, views her child's body at Shalom Mortuary in Athi River on February 11, 2024. Liam was run over by a Goodrich International School bus. 

Photo credit: Pool

On Saturday, the family hired a private pathologist who conducted a post-mortem on the deceased boy's body and concluded that he died of severe head injuries.

"His left arm was also broken and his leg was also injured. But the pathologist said that the head injury was so severe that it caused my son's death," said the distraught mother.

While the autopsy was going on, the family tried to contact the school administration to share information, but this never happened.

Ms Nelima said the school management was silent while they were trying to piece together the scene of the accident and what could have happened.

On Sunday, the family took the body of the boy, who joined Goodrich International School just a month ago, to Uasin Gishu County for burial on a date yet to be announced.

As the matter went viral on social media platforms, the head teacher of the school, who had informed them on Saturday that he had been attacked at a meeting in Isinya, Kajiado County, sent a message of condolence to the family.

The school management, through the head teacher, had promised to provide Nation with details of what had happened.

The headmaster sent a WhatsApp message asking what exactly the reporters wanted to know but never replied. Meanwhile, two weeks ago, a pupil at Lily Academy drowned during a swimming lesson at the school.

The nine-year-old pupil had only been at the school for a month when the unfortunate incident occurred.

According to parents at the school, the pupil was swimming in a pool on the premises when she drowned. This raised concerns about the safety of pupils during swimming lessons.

The class teacher only noticed that one of the pupils, a girl, was missing and when the classmates were questioned, they said that she had remained deep in the pool.

For the past three days, the Nation has contacted the school about the matter, but they have been reluctant to respond.

One of the school officials who spoke to this reporter on the phone said that the school management was in a series of meetings and was unable to speak to us.