A postmortem examination conducted on 36-year-old Terance Korir, who died in a car fire incident at Buruburu estate in Nairobi on April 29, indicates he was killed by smoke inhalation, ruling out claims that he succumbed to burn injuries after he was doused in a highly flammable substance and set alight.
Chief Government Pathologist, Dr Johansen Oduor, who conducted the autopsy at the Chiromo Funeral Parlour in Nairobi on Tuesday, May 5, said the poisonous chemicals in the smoke reduced the amount of oxygen available to Korir’s body, leading to his death.
Smoke particles were found in Korir’s lungs, indicating he remained alive minutes after the fire broke out, but eventually succumbed to the poisonous smoke chemicals.
Buruburu OCPD, Adamson Bungei, on Saturday, May 2, told K24 Digital that the deceased’s widow Ruth Wanjiru, 29, said — in her statement filed at the area police station — that shortly after her partner left their house on Mai Mahiu Court, Buruburu Phase 5, she heard a loud explosion, and when she rushed out, she was shocked to see her husband seated motionless on the driver’s seat of his Subaru Impreza, with smoke billowing from the vehicle’s interior.
“She (Wanjiru) said that she tried opening the driver’s door from the outside so that she could rescue her husband, but her spouse had locked the door,” said Bungei.
State’s chief pathologist, Dr. Oduor, has now ruled out allegations that Korir died of burn injuries as was alleged in sections of social media.
Immediately after news broke of Korir’s death, speculation mounted online that he was set on fire, while in his car, by a person extremely close to him following a persistent domestic dispute. This probable angle to Korir’s death resulted in homicide detectives being deployed to lead investigations into the father-of-two’s then-mysterious demise.
US’s MedStar Hospital Washington Center says poisonous chemicals in smoke can damage a person’s airway and lungs, as well as reduce the amount of oxygen available to the body. A person may develop carbon monoxide poisoning, cyanide poisoning, or complications of exposure to another harmful chemicals from the smoke.
Homesafety.honeywell says inhaling smoke has immediate adverse effects, irritating the eyes, nose and throat and causing uncontrollable coughing and sickness.
“Smoke inhalation kills in just a few minutes and also quickly obscures vision, creating disorientation that can prevent a safe escape. A victim may be rendered unconscious very quickly, leading to rapid death. Life limiting, long term injuries to the respiratory and nervous system also result from non-fatal smoke exposure,” says the home safety website.
Buruburu OCPD, Adamson Bungei, on April 29 told K24 Digital that the car fire that killed Korir broke out after he ignited the engine of his vehicle.
Korir, a dweller of Mai Mahiu Court on Katulo Road, was preparing to leave for work at 8:30am Wednesday, April 29, when the incident happened, said the area police boss.
“It is strange how the vehicle’s interior was the only part that was destroyed by the explosion,” he told K24 Digital.
Area DCIO, Adan Guyo, said neighbours and two fire engines from Nairobi County helped in putting out the fire, though by the time they were arriving at the scene, Korir had already succumbed to smoke poisoning.
The vehicle, a Subaru Impreza, had been parked at the Mai Mahiu Court yard near House Number 465, police said.
“We must ascertain what caused the fire; we want to know whether someone else plotted the incident, or not,” emphasised Guyo.
The occupant of the car, Korir, was “burnt beyond recognition”, a report filed at the Buruburu Police Station by the Chairman of Mai Mahiu Court on Katulo Road, Cyrus Chege, said.
Korir is survived by his wife and two children aged 3 and 1.