US diplomat transferred after fatal crash in Kenya

2013-08-03T00:00:00Z US diplomat transferred after fatal crash in KenyaThe Associated Press The Associated Press
August 03, 2013 12:00 am  • 

NAIROBI, Kenya - An American diplomat who police say was speeding crossed the center line in his SUV and rammed into a full minibus, killing a father of three whose widow is six months pregnant, officials said Friday.

U.S. Embassy officials in Nairobi rushed the American and his family out of Kenya the next day, leaving the crash victims with no financial assistance to pay for a funeral and for hospital bills for the eight or so others who were seriously injured.

Latifah Naiman Mariki, 38, whose husband was killed in the crash, was almost evicted from her house this week after her landlord demanded rent. Mariki's late husband, Haji Lukindo, was the family's only source of income.

Mariki told The Associated Press that neither the American driver nor anyone at the U.S. Embassy has contacted her, and she doesn't know how she will provide for her soon-to-be-born child and three children, ages 20, 10 and 7.

"It is difficult for me to handle this matter because my kids need to go to school. They need everything, basic needs," Mariki said. "And we have no place to stay because we have to pay the rent. We have no money."

Hilary Renner, a State Department spokeswoman in Washington, said the "embassy is fully cooperating with the Kenyan authorities as they investigate the accident and work to aid the victims."

The American driver of the SUV, Joshua Walde, was an information management officer at the Nairobi embassy. After the crash on the evening of July 11, he gave a statement to police but because he has diplomatic immunity he was not detained.

A police dossier on the case shown briefly to an Associated Press reporter contained sketches of how police believe the accident happened that show the American's SUV driving into oncoming traffic.

A police officer familiar with the case said of Walde: "He was driving very fast." Pictures in the dossier show that the SUV hit the front corner and side of the mini-bus, smashing in its frame.

Kenyan minibuses frequently drive fast.

A Facebook group of Kenyan mothers took up Mariki's case and is trying to raise funds for her. In dozens of comments online, many demanded accountability and expressed dismay that no financial help has been given.

"She's such a decent and honest lady you feel so bad for her. She wasn't employed," Zahra Ashif, who started the Facebook thread, told AP. "The point is that (Walde) is not here so he can't be arrested, but after that point did he not have any courtesy to get in touch? ... For them life has gone on, but what about these kids?"

Walde is an 11-year employee of the State Department who has worked in Kazakhstan, Uruguay and Croatia. Shortly after the crash, Walde updated his work history on the networking site LinkedIn to put his time in Nairobi in the past tense, from July 2012 to July 2013.

After the Facebook group pointed to the updated résumé as evidence that Walde would not return, the account was deleted.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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