Kenyan man drowns after canoe accident in US lake
A Kenyan family’s hope for a better life has been dashed after their son drowned in a lake accident in Washington, US, forcing them to instead start making funeral plans seven months after landing in the US.
The 35-year-old Bonventure Alfred Ng’ang’a Gitau drowned in Lake Chelan in Chelan County on Saturday afternoon when an inflatable kayak that he was travelling in with a friend capsized.
According to the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office, Gitau and his friend went into the water in the inflatable canoe north of the dock area at Lake Chelan State Park.
The Sheriff’s office received distress calls on the duo at around 2:49pm, and eyewitnesses said Gitau, who lived in Tacoma, was seen momentarily in the water before disappearing below the surface.
According to police, the deceased who hails from Mwiki in Kasarani area of Nairobi was not wearing a personal floatation device at the time of the incident in the cold lake water.
“The lakes are very cold and the further you go below the surface the colder it gets. Your body is somewhat going to go into a shock scenario pretty quickly and everybody reacts differently. You’re not going to have your faculties very long in that type of situation,” explained Sgt. Kent Sisson.
“Anytime you’re in any kind of vessel, whether you’re a good swimmer or not a good swimmer, wear a personal flotation device because that’ll keep your head above water.”
Gitau’s friend, Jackson Njaru, aged 31, made a lucky escape by swimming to a nearby boat and was pulled from the water, as Gitau’s body was retrieved at around 4:00pm at a depth of about 30 feet by a diver.
“Gitau left Kenya for Washington in September 2018 in search of greener pastures and was working in construction to upgrade the economic situation of his family back in Kenya and leaves behind a 3-year-old son,” said his cousin Lawrence Njoroge, who is in the US.
The Kenyan Community in Washington plans to hold a fundraiser on Sunday to send the deceased’s body home for burial, with the mortuary and shipping fees estimated at close to Sh1 million.
He is expected to be laid to rest at his family’s ancestral land in Kiambaa, Kiambu County.