Boy maimed in police car accident cries for justice

Friday, October 9th, 2020 00:00 |
Ryan Ochieng with her mother Razoah Melisah at their house in Umoja Estate in Nairobi. Ochieng was hit by a vehicle belonging to the Diplomatic Police Unit in 2015. Photo/PD/PHILIP KAMAKYA

Having a child, and parenting, is generally fun. But the tales of Razoah Melisa are not of joy, they are of the pain she experiences daily as she sees her eight-year old son waste away.

A vehicle belonging to the Diplomatic Police Unit (DPU) in Nairobi’s Umoja Estate on October 14, 2015 hit Ryan Ochieng. 

The accident left the minor fractured on the right femur, the bone between the hip and the knee. He developed paralysis of both lower limbs, and lost bowel and urine control.

“My son has never walked and lost bowel and urine control. It was a rude welcome into the private world of special needs parenting, characterised by emotional and physical demands,” she said. 

According to the Police Medical Examination report, commonly referred to as the P3 issued on December 9, 2015, the boy had developed urine and stool incontinence.

He was “unable to control bowel movements. He was also experiencing involuntary leakage of urine after the accident.”

Melisah’s life changed forever. She had to quit her cloth selling business to take care of her son, then aged 3.

At 8, Ryan cannot walk or play with other children his age nor go to the toilet on his own. He also faces food, sanitary and education challenges.

When it rains it pours. She needed a shoulder to cry on but there was none.

Worse still, the husband, Elvis Otieno, whom she could have turned to for solace, took off after the accident, leaving her with the disabled son.

“The usual challenges of parenting are exacerbated for parents of children with special needs. I hate my son’s condition.

But I can travel to the end of the world to help him. I am motivated but also heartbroken,” she told People Daily.

Justice also became elusive. The matter was reported to the police and the father recorded his statement. But the case was secretly withdrawn, without her consent and knowledge.

The Diplomatic Police Unit Commandant Patrick Tito yesterday confirmed that the vehicle belonged to the unit was involved in the accident but added that the driver has since been transferred.

“The matter was reported and the investigations taken over by the Traffic Department,” he said.

Accusing finger

The Traffic Police Department and the victim’s parents have been appointing an accusing finger on each other, with the police claiming the victim’s father had been compensated and that the matter was no longer under investigations.

The father yesterday said he was never paid anything but was instead threatened with prosecution.

“The officers insisted that the Director of Public Prosecutions had recommended that I be prosecuted since I was with the child but refused to take care of him. I insisted on seeing the letter but they refused,” the father said.

“I was then thrown out of the office. They said they were calling the driver but he refused to come. There is no office I have not visited,” he added.

In his statement after the accident, Otieno indicated that the police vehicle was being driven at a speed of around 35 to 45km per hour when it hit the boy as he was trying to cross the road.

They took the boy to Victory Hospital in Umoja but were later referred to Mama Lucy Hospital where first aid was administered and the boy later transferred to Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH).

The father had picked him from school that day and they were strolling within the estate.

“At around 6pm, I got a call from the father, informing me that our son had been hit by a police vehicle,” the mother said.

The matter was reported at Buruburu Police Station, Occurrence Book (OB) number 7/15/10/2015.

It was later referred to the Government Vehicle Accident Inspection Section and an inquiry file number IAR/125/2015 opened.

Driver of the vehicle was identified as Douglas Wanyiri and is currently serving at Mukurwe-ini Police Station. Yesterday, a senior officer at the DPU said the driver was no longer cooperative and had refused to report to Nairobi.

The mother said after staying at KNH for about two weeks, the doctor broke the sad news to the family. Her son also had a spinal cord injury.

“While at KNH, Wanyiri came accompanied by another officer. They only talked to my husband and left shortly thereafter,” she said.

He was later released and started attending physiotherapy sessions.

After the husband left, she decided to follow up on the case.

“The investigating officer told me that my former husband had withdrawn the case. I called him (husband) and he told me he had been threatened by the police but did not withdraw the case.

Before a Good Samaritan donated a wheelchair last month, Ochieng was confined to the house and would only crawl around.

Had it not been for the accident, he would now be in Grade 3, a more independent boy, helping the mother in household chores, among other things. But instead he is confined to the wheelchair.

“The accident destroyed my marriage. Baba Ryan left and now I am divorced. I crumble inside,” she said.

Melisa  said she has tried looking for a house help in vain as most of them feel that it is not an easy task dealing with my disabled son.  

The boy is expected to be taken to Pushya Hospital in India for surgery, intrathecal stem cell transplantation, at a cost of USD1,200 (Sh1.2 million).

“We will leave for the surgery as soon as we get the money. It has been tough but I am very optimistic,” Melisa said.

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