A village in Vihiga County has been thrown into mourning after 19 people, eight of them relatives, died in a road crash in neighbouring Bungoma on Monday night.
The dead were among 23 people returning home after visiting their daughter, who is married in Matunda near Kitale, in Trans Nzoia County.
The entourage also had women from the victims’ church and neighbours.
Relatives and villagers thronged the affected homes on Tuesday evening. They gathered in small groups and conversed in hushed tones as they pondered the gravity of the tragedy.
George Kegode lost his wife Abigael Kegode and their children Joseph Ingati and Caroline Vihenda.
Mr Kegode told the Nation that his brother Godfrey Onguso and sister Joyce Onguso also died in the accident, in which two of his brother’s children were fatally injured.
“We planned for the visit and all went according to plan,” said Mr Kegode. “We had two vehicles — a small car and a hired van.”
Mr Kegode and his brother were in the car.
The crash occurred when several vehicles crashed into a stalled cane truck at the Kamukuywa bridge on the Kitale-Webuye road.
George Onguso, who was driving a private car, said he unsuccessfully telephoned his kin in the van, which was behind him, when he passed the accident scene to caution them.
“Unfortunately, no one picked up the calls,” Mr Onguso recalled. “We were later informed of the crash.”
Bungoma North police boss Eliud Okello confirmed that 14 people died on the spot and five others at Webuye Sub-County Hospital.
“Seven people were brought here at night but, unfortunately, five of them died while undergoing treatment,” said Dr Wambasi Mutoro, who is in charge of the hospital, adding that the other two were in critical condition.
Dr Wambasi said the death toll might rise because other people were admitted in two other hospitals.
Mr Okello said a van carrying the Mahanga group rammed the tractor at about 9pm. Five other vehicles, from opposite directions, then crashed into the wreckage. They included a matatu, a maize-laden lorry and personal cars.
The police officer said the driver of the tractor, whose tyres had burst, did not put up any warning sign on the road. The tractor was transporting cane to West Kenya Sugar Company.
Sixteen people were taken to Kimilili and Lugulu hospitals.
The scene is a notorious black spot and has claimed many lives.
A witness, Sylivia Nekesa, gave the cause of the accident as the tractor, which had stalled and had no warning signs to show other road users that danger lay ahead.
“A majority of tractors owned by sugar companies lack side mirrors and warning signs,” said Ms Nekesa. “We would have avoided this accident.”
Bungoma Governor Wycliffe Wangamati and Kimilili MP Didymus Barasa separately visited the scene of the accident and sent messages of condolences to families of the dead.
Mr Wangamati called for road signs and bumps to be erected at the spot to prevent more accidents.
Additional reporting by Titus Oteba