Ondiek Family's Anguish as accident claims another son

The Nation (Nairobi)
NEWS
December 5, 2002
Posted to the web December 5, 2002

By MIKE MWANIKI
Nairobi

The family of former minister Stephen Ondiek yesterday wept as they watched doctors end the life of his son who survived a grisly road accident which killed three other family members.

The archbishop and close relatives surrounded Mr Henry Ochieng's bed at Nairobi Hospital as doctors shut down the life support machine at 11.30am.

The condition of Mr Ochieng', who had been in a coma since he was admitted last Tuesday, had deteriorated rapidly in the last two days, doctors said.

He is suspected to have sustained a serious injury on his spinal cord after the crash, exerting pressure on his brain.

Speaking to the Nation at the hospital, a distraught Archbishop Ondiek said: "I have no power over God.....The Almighty is the creator and has decided to take the children he had given me back.....There is nothing that I can do....."

He was accompanied by his sons, Mr Elias Ondiek, 28, and Mr James Orengo Ondiek, 24.

"This tragedy is God's decision and nobody can do anything about it," he said.

The archbishop said he had placed high academic hopes on Mr Ochieng, 19, in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Examinations after he had scored an A in mock exams.

Another son, Mr Philip Bob Ondiek, who had been admitted with Mr Ochieng, was still being treated at the hospital.

"As a family, we pray and hope that Philip will survive," the politician said.

Yesterday, Archbishop Ondiek said he planned to fly the bodies of his three sons from Nairobi to his Siaya home for burial on Saturday.

However, the body of a daughter who also perished in the tragedy, Ms Rosemary Adhiambo, a teacher at Our Lady of Mercy High School in Nairobi, will be moved for burial later by her husband's family.

Narc leaders, Mr Raila Odinga and Mr Joseph Kamotho, were last evening expected to preside over a harambee in Nairobi to assist the family in defraying hospital bills.

Three children of the Archbishop died in a road accident on Tuesday just hours after helping in their father's successful campaign for the Narc nominations in Ugenya.

The tragedy - the latest of the many that have struck the family - happened only hours after their father presented his nomination papers to Electoral Commission officials.

His jubilant children were returning to Nairobi in the car they had used on the campaign trail when it collided head-on with a tourist van.

The accident occurred at 2.30pm on Tuesday, on the Gilgil-Naivasha road.

The van, belonging to Chronicle Tourist Travellers, was carrying one British tourist and was heading to Nakuru.

The driver, Mr Daniel Mundia, and the unidentified passenger suffered serious head and leg injuries and were flown to Nairobi Hospital. One of Mr Ondiek's daughters alighted at Nakuru Town, leaving the other five to continue to Nairobi.

Mr Clement Omondi, a 27-year-old Nairobi lawyer, who was driving, was killed on the spot. Others who perished included Ms Adhiambo and Mr Evan Owino. Their bodies were taken to Gilgil Hospital Mortuary and later moved to Lee Funeral Home in Nairobi. Mr Omondi and Ms Adhiambo were the only children of Ms Margaret Atieno, the headmistress of St Stephen's High School, Kisii.

Mr Ochieng and Mr Philip Bob Ondiek were flown to Nairobi Hospital after the accident.

Mr Owino, Mr Ochieng and Mr Ondiek sat for KCSE only last month.

The accident was the latest tragedy to hit Mr Ondiek, archbishop of the Legio Maria sect which broke away from the Catholic church, and a former chairman of the Kenya National Library Services.

He had eight wives but four have died. The latest, Josephine, died in June. She was the mother of Mr Owino, who died in the Gilgil accident, and a sister of Mr James Orengo, the former MP for Ugenya who is the SDP's presidential candidate and will face the archbishop in the contest for Ugenya.

Archbishop Ondiek hit the headlines in January 1989 when his son Eric Omondi was kidnapped and later murdered in Nairobi.

The kidnappers asked for a Sh1.5 million ransom but they killed him when Mr Ondiek alerted the police.

Yesterday, Archbishop Ondiek said the tragedy had negatively affected his campaigns. However, he appealed for sympathy from the people of Ugenya, saying: "The race for the parliamentary seat is still on and I will ensure I will not let down the people of Ugenya."




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