Saturday, 22 June 2013

‘How I survived lift tragedy that killed my friend Fredrick’

Mary Muthoni at her home during the interview on June 18, 2013. Photo/JENNIFER MUIRURI 
Mary Muthoni at her home during the interview on June 18, 2013. Photo/JENNIFER MUIRURI   NATION MEDIA GROUP
Posted  Friday, June 21   2013 at  23:30
When Mary Muthoni went out last Sunday night, she counted on having a night of fun. But what she got was not what she bargained for.
Muthoni and her friend Fredrick Ochieng were on their way out of a Nairobi building and had opted to take the lift, which turned out to be a gaping hole.
While she survived, Ochieng, 21, died after falling from the third floor of Interfina House along Tom Mboya Street. (READ: Man plunges to his death in elevator shaft)
“I had joined him and his friends moments before we fell. And when we were ready to leave they pressed the lift button. When the doors opened, we thought the car had arrived,” 18-year-old Muthoni told the Nation.
All she remembers is falling into the dark passage which allows the lift to move from floor to floor.
She thought she was alone until someone shone a torch down the shaft when she noticed Ochieng’s body sprawled next to her.
Her shouts for help and Ochieng’s silence prompted their friends to ask if he was alive. She told them she suspected he was not breathing.
What followed was a two-hour frantic effort to pull her out of the hole.
“There was a cable hanging over me and I tried pulling myself using it. My right hand was badly hurt. The idea failed after giving it a brief try,” Muthoni told the Nation at her parent’s house in Dandora.
One of their brave friends used the cable to get down the shaft to help her out of the hole.
“He tried holding onto me and pulling us both up at first, but that did not work either,” she says. “Then I suggested they could use a rope and tie it round my waist for the others to hoist me up to third floor as the door on ground floor refused to open.”
She was lucky to get to Kenyatta National Hospital at about 5am where she received medical attention for her broken right hand, injuries on her face and leg.
In Kariobangi South, Ochieng’s mother recounted her last moments with her son.
“That Sunday we prepared lunch together and he later left to visit his sister who lives nearby. Later in the evening, he returned with his girlfriend and soon he changed his shoes and seemed to be ready to leave,” Ms Grace Wajewa says, adding that she had urged them not to go out that night because she had a hunch he would be safer at home.
“Later, he left when other friends came by and it was not till 3am when a call came through to his twin brother Derrick informing him that Fredrick had been injured in town,” she explains.
Confirming the incident, Central police chief Patrick Oduma said by the time the police arrived at the scene, Muthoni had already been taken to hospital.
“We have opened investigations to ascertain if at all the allegations she made regarding the incident are true,” he said.

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