When Robson Onyango Ng’wena and nine of his family members left Kisumu to attend a burial in Magugu village, Homa Bay County on Tuesday morning, they had no idea of a bigger tragedy that was to follow.
Hours later, Mr. Ng’wena would be rendered a widower and a distraught father and brother.
His wife, sister, and two daughters died while returning to Kisumu on Tuesday night.
The family would lose three more members at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital where they had been taken.
Mr. Ng’wena’s family had hired a 14-seater van for the journey. It had 11 occupants, including the driver.
After the burial of Mr. Ng’wena’s sister Mical Abongo, the family boarded the vehicle for the return journey at 5 pm.
Thirty minutes later, four had perished in an accident at Kadongo center on the Ahero-Kisii road. The rest ended up in the hospital.
Rammed a truck
Mr Ng’wena’s wife, his sister Penian Awiti and two daughters – Mary and Laureen – died.
Witnesses said the matatu driver lost control of the vehicle and rammed a truck. Kadongo residents had to hack off parts of the wrecked vehicle using pangas, axes, and other improvised tools to reach the survivors and bodies.
At the casualty wing on Wednesday, one of the survivors – Ms Lydia Otieno – who had been transferred from Ringa Sub-County Hospital, lay on a stretcher with injuries to her hands and head as doctors attended to her.
The death toll rose to seven when three more family members succumbed while being treated.
“Two others are in the ICU at Aga Khan Hospital. One has chest problems while the other has severe head injuries,” Dr Daniel Ogol, a family member, told the Nation.
Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital chief executive Peter Okoth said the remaining victims are still being treated.
“One died on arrival and two while receiving treatment. One person was treated and discharged. The remaining three are stable,” Dr Okoth said.
Rachuonyo South Hospital administrator Zachary Ogweno said medical workers responded to the emergency quickly.
“We received help from employees of a private hospital, which even offered its ambulance. I commend our employees who returned to work on being called. Survivors were offered first aid and referred to other hospitals,” he said.
Shocked family friends and relatives of the deceased thronged the mortuary on Wednesday morning.
Another family was also at the mortuary after three of its relatives died in a separate road accident in Rachuonyo South on Tuesday night.
The accident on the Gamba-Oyugis road involved a motorcycle and a petrol tanker.
Mr Joseph Onyango, the rider, was with his in-law Pamela Odhiambo and another relative identified as Joshua Okongo.
They died on the spot when the motorcycle was hit by the truck. Ms Odhiambo’s son Jairo, appealed to police to arrest the truck driver.