Driver of ill-fated matatu ignored pleas to slow down, survivors claim
Passengers of a matatu that crashed along the Nyeri-Nyahururu road killing nine people had protested and warned the driver against speeding shortly before the accident, it has emerged.
Survivors of the accident have said the driver, a teacher who was also the owner of the vehicle, ignored their pleas to slow down before the 14-seater matatu rolled several times at Mahiga area. Police and survivors say he lost control of the vehicle.
Five people died on the spot and four others succumbed to their injuries while receiving treatment at Nyahururu County Referral Hospital.
Three of those who died, including the driver, were members of one family. The accident also claimed the lives of a two-year-old child, who was in the company of her grandmother and the driver’s mother who died on the spot.
“Several pedestrians had alerted us that the vehicle tyres were not in a good condition but the driver did not heed our pleas to slow down. Besides, we warned the driver severally against speeding but he did not listen,” Ms Leah Kamau, who survived the accident, told Nation from her hospital bed.
According to Ms Kamau, the driver veered off the road and hit a fence.
“By the time we reached Kianugu, Ndaragwa, where the accident happening, the vehicle was travelling at a very high speed. I do not know how it happened because I lost consciousness,” the survivor recalled.
The passengers, who are all from Shauri village in Ndaragwa, were returning from a funeral in Mukurweini, Nyeri County.
The driver of the ill-fated vehicle, identified as Mr Wellington King’ori, was a teacher at Baari Primary School in Mairo-Inya Township.
He is said to have sought permission from his school to attend the funeral. Residents said the teacher had acquired the vehicle less than two months ago.
At Nyahururu Country Referral Hospital mortuary, emotions ran high as relatives arrived to identify the badly disfigured bodies of their family members.
Nyandarua county Police Commander Mr Philip Opiyo said preliminary investigations revealed that the accident could have been caused by speeding.
“When you look at the scene of the accident you cannot rule out an element of speeding. Police have, however, launched investigations to establish the real cause of the accident,” he said.
The hospital’s medical superintendent Dr Lawrence Kamande said they received 15 patients from 7.30pm on Tuesday, but three of them succumbed to their injuries.
Ndaragwa MP Mr Jeremiah Kioni and several local leaders, who visited the scene of the accident, and survivors at the hospital called on drivers to observe caution to avert such fatal accidents.
“Over the holidays season no such incidents were reported in the area and in the entire Nyandarua County. I even called our officers to commend them for the good work done. It is therefore unfortunate that the accident has occurred at the beginning of the year after we are through with the festivities,” the MP said.