Accident survivors recount night of horror
Words cannot describe the pain that Ms Phoebe Achieng felt when she learnt that her three children and husband had died in the tragic road crash, at Migaa in Salgaa early Sunday morning.
Ms Achieng, a survivor of the horrific crash said she could not trace one of her sons.
The mother of four boys was travelling with her family from Kisumu to Nairobi when the bus they were in rammed into a truck, killing 30 people on the spot.
Her children aged two months and two years old were pronounced dead on arrival at Nakuru Level Five Hospital, while the husband and one son died on the spot.
“My Family and I had travelled to my husband’s maternal home in Kisumu for the Christmas holiday. We had hoped to travel back to Nairobi on Sunday in order to prepare the children for the schools’ opening day on Tuesday,” said Ms Achieng fighting back tears.
The family had boarded the ill-fated bus at around 9pm and had left Kisumu at 11:30pm on Saturday.
Ms Achieng said the driver of the bus had been driving the vehicle at a high speed, prompting the passengers to insist that he slows down.
SWAYING ON THE ROAD
“At 2:40am the vehicle started producing fumes from the front and a smell of the brake fluid filled the bus. Shortly after, the bus started swaying on the road and that was when it rammed into the oncoming truck,” recalled Ms Achieng.
As shock and confusion set in, Ms Achieng said she saw her three sons and her husband on the floor of the bus, but could not help them as she was holding the two-month old baby.
“I managed to drag myself out of the wreckage with the baby who was still alive at the time, but covered in blood. It was when we arrived at the hospital that I learnt I had lost the rest of my family,” she said.
According to Ms Teresia Mungai, a nursing officer at Nakuru Level Five Hospital, 28 survivors were received at the hospital.
Out of this number, 23 were admitted with serious injuries on the head, chest and limbs.
“Three children aged two months, two years and 10 years were pronounced dead on arrival while one man died while receiving treatment at the ward. One man was discharged on admission,” said Ms Mungai.
Another survivor, Mr George Owuor said the bus had appeared to be faulty from the beginning of the journey.
Mr Owuor, who sat behind the driver, said traffic police officers had flagged down the vehicle at a road block, about 30 minutes before the road crash occurred.
“The police officer asked the driver why the vehicle was swaying on the road but the driver said he had just hit a bump and insisted that the vehicle was in a good condition,” he said.
Mr Owuor had travelled to Kisumu with his brother to attend a friend’s burial ceremony.
Another survivor, Mr Kevin Omondi, said it appeared the driver was aware that his vehicle was faulty as he avoided accelerating.
“My two cousins and I kept asking him to stop the vehicle and fix it before proceeding with the journey but the driver ignored our pleas,” a distraught Omondi said.
He said he was happy when the traffic officer stopped the vehicle, but his relief was short lived as the police officer allowed the bus to continue with its journey.
“If the officer could have stood his ground and forced us to alight, the accident could not have happened,” he said.
Mr Omondi had travelled to Kisumu for his grandmother’s remembrance ceremony on December 28.
Mr Kepha Wanga, who was lucky to come out of the wreckage alive, said the bus started hitting bumps at the Total junction but completely lost control from the General Service Unit camp at Sachangwan to the scene of the accident.
He said he bumped his head on the roof of the bus and on waking up found the passengers asking the driver to stop the bus, but he turned a deaf ear to their pleas.
“Before we rammed into the truck, the driver had managed to avoid hitting other vehicles on the highway but lost control of the vehicle as we maneuvered the steep descent from Sachangwan,” said Mr Wanga.
At the same time, 10-year-old Agnes Achieng found herself stranded at the hospital after she was separated from her father when the accident occurred.
Achieng said her father, Simeon Oyaya, is a preacher and that she had accompanied him to a church mission in Nyakach, Kisumu County.
“My father had told me to sleep in the bus and when I woke up in the hospital I didn’t find him,” she said.
Volunteers from Red Cross have set up a tracing desk at the Nakuru Level Five Hospital on the casualty side, to aid friends and relatives in finding their loved ones.