Posts Tagged ‘road accident’

I almost caused a road death on Saturday. We were coming from a wedding. We approached a zebra crossing (on Langa’ta Road, opposite Uchumi Hyper). I decided to let the people cross. There were two lanes going the same way, and we were on the first one. I realised that the cars on the second lane may not stop. One boy with a bike started crossing. A lorry was approaching fast on the second lane. He pulled away his bike from its path just in time. A guy in a second speeding lorry yelled at him. The two lorries seemed totally oblivious of the zebra crossing. The boy later crossed safely, but quite scared. I was shaken (because I had indirectly encouraged the pedestrians to cross) and angry (at the lorry drivers) at the same time.
My mother-in-law, who was in the car, said that in Tanzania, you could report such lorries and the matter would be followed up. She also said that if a public transport vehicle increased the fare, you could report it and it would also actually be followed up.

English: Zebra crossing in Queens Road

English: Zebra crossing in Queens Road (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A while later, my wife wanted sugar cane. I saw a vendor by the road side and stopped in traffic to buy. Vehicles were not moving at the time. The traffic ahead started moving before we quite finished our transaction. A car overtook us. As we moved, a policeman stopped the car that had overtaken us. He also instructed me to get off the road. He scolded me for stopping on the road and asked for my driver’s license.

“This car will go to the police station,” he said, telling me to organise alternative transport for my wife, Gio, my wife’s sister and her mother.
The policeman put my licence in his pocket. He went to the other car and got in.
He came back to ours and said “That guy is a doctor he was rushing to Karen, and you?”
I apologised.
“My wife wanted sugar cane.”
“Why are you not talking?” he asked my mother in law
“My daughter wanted sugar cane to stimulate milk production.”
“Which daughter?”
“Me.” said my wife.
He let us go after some more scolding.

I was driving along James Gichuru Road, moving towards Gitanga Road, at around 6:45 p.m. I had passed Lavington Green and the other sections of the road that normally have traffic, so the road was fairly clear. Then I saw a man lying on the road ahead of me. He was in my lane and he was twitching as if having a fit. I veered away from him and drove past him.


But I was not settled. There seemed to be no pedestrians who could see him, and he was lying after a bend in the road, meaning that you could not see him from afar. And since there was little traffic on that section of the road, chances were a vehicle would come at relatively high speed and the driver would see him too late. Then there was the issue of the gathering dusk.

All these thoughts went through my head as I drove slowly on. I also thought of the parable Jesus gave of the good Samaritan who helped a wounded man, and the religious people who passed the wounded man and left him unaided. I turned at the Gitanga Road junction and drove back to the man. I turned the car onto the man’s lane, thus placing the the car between oncoming traffic and the man, switched on the hazard lights and got out.

Another car stopped on the other side of the man. He was still having seizures. I approached, not knowing what to do. There were one or two pedestrians looking at the man. The man from the other car said we should just let the man on the ground be, the fit would end.

He said we lift him and move him from the road, and three of us did.
The man on the ground was holding a piece of paper in his hand and saying something.
“Dawa” (Medicine) he said.

I took the paper. It appeared to be a prescription.
“Do you have this medicine?” I asked.
“Dawa” he said again.
“I don’t have medicine now” I said, “We can get it later”
I later realised I was talking to him like a small child.
“Can you stand?” I asked.

Someone else and I helped him up. He stood a few moments then I slowly led him to the car.
I asked him if he knew where to get the medicine, and he said yes, it can be gotten in the nearby Kawangware.

I drove to Kawangware as he told me he had not taken his drugs for three days. He thanked me for taking him off the road. He said he was a hawker and that the City Council officers had taken his things. he said he would like to go to Mbagathi hospital before taking drugs, so that he can be checked to determine the appropriate dosage. I asked if the hospital was open at that time. He said he did not know. He said he could get generic drugs for now, then go to hospital early the next day. He pointed at where he normally gets drugs. We went in, got two different tablets, and I gave him some money to pay at the hospital the next day.
Later, my wife said that is how many people who get fits die: they fall into danger. Some fall on the road, some fall onto open fires.

So many ways to die.

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This post may meander a little bit.

About nine days ago as my wife and I drove to Church, we saw a car in the central reservation of the Mombasa Road. The car looked dirty in an unusual manner, not just as if it had not been washed for a while or had driven through mud. Then we saw a young lady lying on the ground near the car, her body laid straight. None of the people standing there seemed to be attending to her, so presumambly she was dead. Or maybe they were waiting for an ambulance or something. We figured the dirty car must have rolled.

Picture from morguefile.com

In the past two years or so, my wife and I have come across at least three accident scenes, in which there was a person lying on the ground, along Mombasa Road. It is disturbing to see a dead person in such a context. One of those times, there were what looked like tomatoes or some similar fruit lying near the body.

A miscalculation
An error of judgement
Panicked acceleration
A stupid mistake

The brakes screech
The car veers
The woman screams
The car hits

The body falls
Limp and lifeless
The car rolls
Heavy but helpless

It ends for the victim
Just like that
No reset, no reload
No rewind, no undo.

It is over.

The father did not come home with the food
The girl did not make it to Church
The woman did not visit as planned
The families will begin to search

On Saturday, some friends of ours, my wife and I were driving home from a retreat. Our friends needed to get home quickly to attend to their baby. We encountered one of those situations on the road where there are slow vehicles using two or three of the lanes. In this case there were two trucks. We got behind one, with the other on our left. I was driving. An idiotic driver suddenly veered from the right onto our lane, bumped us and went to the leftmost lane. He could easily have pushed us into the wheels of the truck that was on our left. Looking back on the incident, I think I remained surprisingly calm. My wife did not realise that the other driver had bumped us, so after hooting furiously at him, she said we need not stop. Later, when we assessed the damage, we found that it actually was minor. It was certainly minor compared to other scenarios that could have unfolded.

Thanks be to God for preserving us.

While on the subject of road accidents, which continue to kill many people in Kenya, I put the blame almost entirely on the police force. As much as drivers are urged to drive carefully and observe rules of the road, it is the work of the police to ensure that those who break the law are arrested and charged (and hopefully subsequently punished). The lives of people should not be left to the goodwill or risk-tolerance of drivers. Drivers should be made to know that if they break the rules, they will be punished. Drivers should fear breaking the law, even if they are not afraid of risking the lives and well being of others or their own lives. Policemen do not urge thieves and robbers to avoid stealing and killing. They arrest them and seek to have them punished. The same should apply on our roads. We need not urge killers to behave (as in the first link below). The law needs to strike and strike with force.

Related articles

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You may want to read Part 1 here.


Image courtesy of mack2happy / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There were shoes outside the door. A man’s shoes. Not his. He stood the bicycle against the wall, took off his own shoes and pushed the door. It opened. He could hear sounds in the house. Suppressed laughter. Coming from the bedroom. Margaret’s voice. A male voice as well.
Frederick walked towards the bedroom in his socks. At first he tried not to make any noise then he reminded himself that this was his house. The other man was the intruder, not him.
The two voices fell silent.
“Someone’s coming,” Frederick heard the male voice say. Was that fear he detected in the voice?
Frederick pushed open the bedroom door.
Margaret was standing next to the bed towards its foot. She had partly turned to see who was at the bedroom door. Facing her, and near the head of the bed, was a tall young-looking man. He had also half turned towards the door. Frederick and Margaret’s son was asleep in his small bed at the foot of his parents’ bed.
“Hello Fred,” Margaret said. “You scared us”
“Who is this?” Frederick asked, eyes fixed on the tall stranger.
“This is my cousin Tom,” said Margaret. “I was just showing-”
“Cousin, eh?” said Frederick with a sneer. “In our bedroom?”
Margaret was silent for a moment. Perhaps surprised by Frederick’s apparent anger. Or perhaps feeling caught.
“Tom IS my cousin,” she said. “He dropped in to visit. I was showing him the design of our bed. He recently moved out of home and wants to have a bed made.”
“Get out of my bedroom,” Frederick said to the alleged cousin.
The man turned towards the door, but did not get out.
“You will wake up the baby,” said Margaret.
“Don’t tell me how to talk in my own house and you and this ‘cousin’ were laughing in here!” said Frederick, his voice louder than before.
“Don’t yell at her,” said Tom.
“Oh, you are defending her, are you?”
“Don’t yell at him. You will wake up the…”
“And YOU are defending him?”
Frederick moved towards his wife.
Tom held him by the shoulder and restrained him. The movement caused Frederick’s socks to slip on the PVC carpet. His arms waved. Tom caught him before he could fall.
“I thought I told you to get out!” Frederick said, embarrassment feeding his anger.
“Are you drunk?” Tom said.
There was silence.
Margaret moved away from the two men and towards her sleeping son’s bed.
“What did you say?” Frederick asked, standing straight and looking at the taller man directly in his eyes.
“You seemed a bit unstable.”
Frederick, a teetotaler, felt his blood boil.
He strode out of the bedroom, through the sitting room and into the kitchen. He saw a knife in the sink and took it. He went back to the bedroom.
Margaret seemed to be urging the young man to leave. The man was unwilling to go.
“He might hurt you,” the man said to her.
When they saw the knife, they both froze for a moment.
Tom lunged towards Frederick.
“No!” Margaret leaped towards Tom, trying to hold him back.

Frederick instinctively raised his arm and moved to his left, dodging Tom. He stood next to the still-sleeping child’s bed, facing his wife and the stranger in his bedroom.
“Tom, just leave” Margaret pleaded.
“I have to get that knife.”
Tom lunged again and Frederick turned his back towards him. Frederick extended his arms to keep the knife out of Tom’s reach. The two men struggled next to the child’s bed. The arm bearing the knife was pushed violently downwards. The knife plunged. Deep.
Margaret screamed.
Realisation sank quickly.
Tom now turned and ran out of the bedroom.
Frederick felt as if he would lose control of his bowels.
Margaret was kneeling next to the child’s bed. She was making strange sounds – half crying, half talking.
She threw off the covers and confirmed her fears. She took her son’s body in her arms and started sobbing. Her cries sounded animal-like. Like the moaning of a cat.
Frederick sat on the floor. He felt sick. His hands were shaking. He got up. He ran out of the bedroom. He ran out of the house. He did not know if he was running after Tom or running away from the nightmare in his house. He just ran. He ran past neighbours drawn to his house by Margaret’s cries. He ran on, even as he heard shouts that someone should catch him.

John drove towards the town. Music was coming from the lorry’s radio. It was a good thing there were many radio stations to choose from nowadays. Cocotea was singing.
Go home to your mama, your mama
Go home to your papa, your papa
You’re too young to be my lover
“Maggy,” John said to himself. “You are not too young to be my lover.”
She certainly was not too young, but she was married. John would see if he could visit her again today and try to make her comfortable being around him. Then he could work on making her actually like him.
Someone dashed onto the road. John slammed the brakes so hard that he lifted himself off his seat. It was too late. The thud-crunch sound of the impact made John’s stomach turn. He leaped out of the driver’s cabin and reached the body at the same time as a crowd that had apparently been pursuing the dead man. He looked at the body of the man. It was covered in sweat. He had no shoes and his socks looked like he had been running in them for a considerable distance.

The end.

This story is based on an actual news story. Sorry I lost the newspaper cutting.

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