Thirty five-year-old Mariam Kighenda and her 4-year-old daughter, Amanda Mutheu, suffocated to death, autopsy results released Wednesday, October 16, show.
The State’s chief pathologist, Dr. Johansen Oduor, told K24 Digital that the two died of asphyxia – a condition arising when the body is deprived of oxygen.
Asphyxia, simply known as suffocation, causes unconsciousness or death, Oduor says.
“I can confirm that Kighenda and Mutheu died as a result of lack of oxygen in their bodies. We’ll now hand over the report to police so that they can continue with their investigations,” the pathologist said Wednesday after overseeing the 1-hour and 30 minutes’ postmortem exercise at Jocham Hospital in Mombasa.
Oduor said the autopsy outcome showed that the mother-and-daughter “died around the same time.”
“None of them suffered any physical injury,” said Oduor.
The pathologist, however, says it was impossible for them to ascertain the time Kighenda and Mutheu remained alive under water before finally succumbing.
“We couldn’t establish that because the bodies had stayed immersed in the ocean for long,” said Oduor.
“The longer one remains immersed in water, the more difficult it is to get accurate results on how long one stayed alive before succumbing to asphyxia. Decomposition of the bodies had begun. However, it couldn’t be possible to tell when it exactly started because when one dies in a water body, the [decomposition] process is delayed,” said Oduor.
Likoni lead detective, Charles Onyango, told K24 Digital that they have commenced investigations into the death of the two.
“We are yet to question Kenya Ferry Services managing director, Bakari Gowa, in regard to the mother-and-daughter’s deaths. However, we have lined him up for interrogation,” said Onyango.
A representative of Kighenda’s family, Luka Mbaati, now says they will sue the Kenya Ferry for negligence.
“We are, currently, continuing with burial plans. Once we have laid our loved ones to rest, we will institute legal action against the Kenya Ferry,” Mbaati told K24 Digital.
The spokesperson said the remains of Kighenda and her daughter will be transported from the mortuary on Friday, October 18, ahead of the burial, which will take place at Ngaamba area in Kilome Constituency, Makueni County the following day, Saturday.
The bodies were pulled out from the sea last Friday, October 11, after staying immersed in the Indian Ocean for 13 days.
Kighenda and Mutheu died after their vehicle, a Toyota Isis, slid off MV Harambee on the Likoni Ferry channel on September 29 and plunged 58 meters into the sea.