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Two students drown in River Yala while taking selfie

Monday November 5 2018

Sharlet Atieno,  Derick Ouka

Sharlet Atieno and Derick Ouka drowned in River Yala on November 3, 2018. PHOTOS | COURTESY 

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When Ms Sharlet Atieno and Mr Derick Ouka planned their usual Saturday outing to Siaya town, little did they know the tragedy that lay ahead.

This was the second time the pair and two other friends — Beatrice Stephanie Atieno and Steven Omondi — had planned for a photo shoot on the banks of River Yala.

Usually, the young women would apply make-up and don wrappers for the session.


Ms Atieno, a first-year student at Bondo Technical Training Institute, was all set and posed for a photo on the rocks. The picture was to be taken by Mr Ouka, a second-year student at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology.

Suddenly, Ms Atieno slipped and fell into the river. Her friends thought it was a prank.


“We burst into laughter but that soon turned into panic when she failed to resurface,” Ms Stephanie, a Kabianga University student, said. Realising how dire the situation was, Mr Ouka jumped into the river in an attempt to rescue a drowning friend.

However, he was overwhelmed by the current. Efforts Ms Stephanie and Mr Omondi to rescue the pair bore no fruit.


“I jumped into the river too and got hold of Sharlet but she slipped and disappeared," Mr Omondi said.

The search for the two bodies, which began on Saturday afternoon, was still going on by Monday evening.

Mr Ouka's mother Jacinta Adhiambo was taken to Avenue Hospital in Kisumu when she fainted after receiving the news of the drowning.


Friends of Mr Ouka and Ms Atieno described them as jovial and loving.

Kennedy Akuku, a relative and classmate of Mr Ouka, was still coming to terms with the loss of the two yesterday.

“My cousin jumped in the river to rescue Sharlet because he was a good swimmer. It is unfortunate that he also drowned,” Mr Akuku said.


Ms Stephanie said the loss of Mr Ouka has left a gap in her life.

“We knew each other even before completing high school. He called and asked me to meet him in town. We spent most of the day together before going to the river,” she said.

Relatives and friends of the two have appealed to the Siaya County government to help find the bodies.

Bondo Police chief Harriet Kinya said efforts to find the bodies are ongoing.


“We are making arrangements to get divers from Nairobi,” Ms Kinya said on Monday, adding that a downpour on Saturday frustrated the search mission.

Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University Vice-Chancellor Stephen Agong said the incident is unfortunate.

"We are still getting details about the search for the bodies," Prof Agong' said.

Bondo MP Gideon Ochanda sent a message of condolences to the families of the two students.