Kenya crash survivors recovering well
Friday 18 Jan 2013 9:29 a.m.
The group of 19 New Zealanders were on a volunteer trip in the small village of Ma’hanga
By 3 News online staff
The Bethlehem College survivors of a minivan crash in Kenya have been transferred to a Nairobi hospital in the first step of the process to return home.
A team leader for the school trip, Kerri Tilby-Price, says everyone is now in a stable enough condition to fly from Kisumu to Nairobi, where they will be assessed. Those who are well enough will fly home today.
The group of 19 New Zealanders – 12 students and seven adults – were on a volunteer trip in the small village of Ma’hanga, when their van rolled. Caitlin Dickson, 19, and married couple, Brian and Grace Johnston, were killed in the crash.
Ms Tilby-Price says the other members of the group are helping each other to keep their spirits as high as possible under the circumstances.
"This trip is a trip about leadership and they have totally stepped up," she told 3 News reporter Melissa Davies in Kenya. "They have done such an amazing job. The parents at home should be so proud of their kids."
Doctors have been impressed at how quickly the survivors of the minibus crash are recovering. Surgeon Dr Costa Mairwa says they are doing very well, and everyone who is still in hospital has been transferred to the general ward.
New Zealand High Commission officials have arrived to help co-ordinate the first group of students return home. But despite their horrific experience in Kenya, Ms Tilbury-Price says she hopes to return there in the near future. She doesn't blame Kenya, saying it could have happened anywhere.
While the group's building project at the school is left unfinished for now, the local community has vowed to complete it in honour of those who died in the crash.
Some of those in hospital are yet to be told of their colleagues' deaths, reports the New Zealand Herald.
"The logic behind that is to help them focus on their injuries without having to deal with grief at the same time," says Bethlehem College principal Eoin Crosbie.
This was a "very temporary situation... and we'll deal with that as and when it's appropriate".
Kenyan bus driver Christopher Mmata also died in the accident. He had driven school parties in previous years, and the Bethlehem students called him humble, generous and a very careful driver.
Melissa Davies will have more from Kenya on 3 News at 6pm.
Bethlehem College has started a fund to support the family of Christopher Mmata. Donations can be made to the Bank of New Zealand account named Kenya Donations, with the number 02-0466-0057025-02.