At two o’clock on Sunday morning, over 20 youths from the Kabukoki Revival Church in Salabani, South Baringo, gathered at the shores of Lake Baringo to board a boat for a gospel meeting on Kokwa Island.

Millicent Lekimanti, 27, was the adult in charge of accompanying the youths, aged between nine and 17.

The youths were excited as they sang when their vessel set sail at four in the morning. Among them were four children of the pastor.

They did not reach their intended destination because they encountered a boat accident on the lake.

The Nation spoke to survivors who recounted the accident on their way to Kokwa.

The boat, carrying 23 passengers, including 21 primary and secondary school students, capsized just an hour into the journey.

Sixteen-year-old Elvis Kikenyi, a second-year student, said the boat’s propeller got entangled in a fishing net, causing the engine to fail.

As the boat operator tried to remove the net, heavy waves caused it to overturn.

Fear gripped many of the youths, prompting them to jump off the boat. This is according to Kikenyi, who was taken to Kokwa Island after being rescued.

“When the boat capsized, everyone inside except four of us jumped out. We clung to the engine part, and a few minutes later, another boat from Kokwa Island arrived, and those on board began rescue operations,” Kikenyi recounted.

The four children in the boat were the pastor’s children— one boy and three girls. The boy survived, but one of the girls passed away. However, the whereabouts of the other two are still unknown.

Pastor Kikenyi explained that their church has a partnership with a neighboring church on Kokwa Island, where youths from both churches meet once a month for prayers.

The youths from Kokwa had visited their Kabukoki counterparts during the Easter break, and it was their turn to go to the island before schools reopened.

“I was supposed to travel with the youths from our church, but the Bishop called for a meeting in Kabarnet town that same Sunday,” Pastor Kikenyi explained.

His counterpart from Kokwa also attended the Bishop’s meeting. A member of his church called to inform him about the accident.

The two pastors requested permission and left, traveling by car to Kampi Samaki, where they found rescue efforts underway on the lake.

“I saw the body of one child being carried by Red Cross officials, and when I inquired about the attire, I suspected it was my daughter,” he said.

Later, he identified the deceased as his 12-year-old daughter, a Grade Six student.

By Monday night, 17 people from the boat had been rescued, including the pastor’s firstborn son, a second-year student.

Six people, including two of the pastor’s daughters, were still missing, and rescue operations were ongoing.

“It’s heartbreaking to lose three out of four children,” the pastor said, tears streaming down his face.

His missing daughters are in First Grade and Fourth Grade, respectively.