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How flower girl drowned in Diani swimming pool hours to wedding

By Mohamed Ahmed November 9th, 2019 2 min read

Eight-year-old Charlene Wanjiku was ecstatic when she was informed she would be going to the Coast.

She was a good swimmer and looked forward to the trip.

Her aunt from the United Kingdom had picked Diani in Kwale County for her wedding to allow as many relatives as possible in Kenya to attend.

Charlene’s grandfather, Martin Mbugua, had asked her to join him for the ceremony.

The Grade Two pupil from Ruhia Rwambogo Primary School was set to be a flower girl during the wedding.

Two hours before the nuptials at Neptune Hotel on October 25, Charlene decided to cool down from the sweltering heat by going for a swim at the hotel’s pool. That was when tragedy struck.
Charlene’s first visit to the popular tourist destination turned into a nightmare when she drowned in the pool.

Attempts by two doctors, who were guests at the wedding, to save the minor’s life were futile.

“The doctors tried to save her life by conducting a CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) but that did not help. She was pronounced dead in hospital,” said Ms Susan Kamau, the girl’s aunt.

Charlene had been rushed to Palm Beach Hospital.

Her mother, Rhoda Mbugua, had not travelled to the Coast for the wedding as she was nursing her two-month-old baby at her Limuru home in Kiambu County.

The hardest thing after the incident was how the family would break the tragic news to Charlene’s mother.

“We were shocked when Charlene’s grandfather blamed himself for the accident. He did not know what to tell his daughter (Charlene’s mother) of the death,” said Ms Kamau.


Relatives opted to ask Charlene’s mother to travel to Diani where the news was broken to her.

“She could not hold herself back when she learnt her first born was no more. We didn’t have any answers why her daughter had to die this young,” Ms Kamau added.

On Monday, a post-mortem was conducted at the Coast General Hospital mortuary before the body was taken to Limuru for burial arrangements.

The little angel was buried on Thursday at Roromo village in Limuru. The family is accusing the hotel’s management of not treating the matter seriously.

“A few minutes after the accident, people continued swimming like nothing had happened. The management did not even think of protecting the area as a crime scene,” Ms Kamau said.

The family said their daughter would be alive today if the hotel had lifeguards.


The Nation is aware that soon after the girl’s death, a woman narrowly escaped death at the pool.

Police on Friday told the Nation they have launched investigations. Msambweni Sub-County Police Commander Nehemiah Bitok said the girl was taken to Palm Beach Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

He urged parents not to leave their children alone to avoid such accidents, particularly during holiday season.

Neptune Group of Hotels director Vickram Korla said they tried to resuscitate the girl before they took her to hospital.

“It is an unfortunate incident. Our swimming pools have notices warning guests not to swim unsupervised,” he said, adding that the notices state the depth of each section of the pool.