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How homeless Kenyan man ended up dead in heavy snow in the US

A Kenyan family living in the US has given a heartbreaking account of events preceding the discovery of the body of their homeless son who froze to  death under heavy snow.

The body of Kelvin Ibirithi, 34, was found in a snow-covered field on the morning of Sunday, February 10, 2019 after a snow storm in the area.

Speaking to The News Tribune, his family said they tried in vain to get the deceased off the street and to quit his heavy drinking.

Kelvin’s father, Eliud Ibirithi, narrated how his wife Sylvia Githiri and their three sons moved to the United States from Kenya about 15 years ago.

They first settled in Delaware before Eluid and his son moved to Tacoma, Washington.

HEAVY DRINKING

According to the family, just hours before he died, as heavy snow blanketed the city, Ibirithi sent several text messages to a friend asking for help.

His pleas for help however went unheeded.

The father said that after his son started drinking heavily, he stopped working, and started coming to the home they shared less and less. He eventually became homeless.

Friends and family of Eliud Githiri gather for prayer vigil following the death of his son Kelvin in the US. PHOTO | COURTESY | THE NEWS TRIBUNE
Friends and family of Eliud Githiri gather for prayer vigil following the death of his son Kelvin in the US. PHOTO | COURTESY | THE NEWS TRIBUNE

“When we came here is when he started going out. I didn’t really approve. I didn’t like the company he was involving himself with. They were characters that I did not approve of,” Eliud told the news outlet.

Both parents say over the last several years they tried to take their son back in and get him help with his addiction, but their attempts proved unsuccessful.

PASSED AWAY

“Even when I was being informed by the officer that he had passed away, I was planning to go look for him,” the older Ibirithi said.

“Drinking became a problem. I told him as soon as he improved I would send him back to school. He said that’s what he wanted. All the time he would say, ‘I’ll stop. I’m not drinking.’ He lived in denial,” the bereaved dad further narrated.

The deceased’s mother also recounted the numerous unsuccessful attempts they made to get him into rehab.

Kelvin was laid to rest on February 20th in Tacoma, with the congregation of Diaspora Community of Faith Church in Tacoma – where Eliud also attends – raising more than Sh2 million ($20,000) towards the burial.

The cause of Kelvin’s death has not yet been determined, with the County Medical Examiner’s office saying it could be months before an official cause is determined.