A lovers’ outing on Sunday evening turned tragic after a young man drowned while attempting to swim at the scenic Lake Challa in Taveta Sub County.

The deceased, Marunde Ngondi, had taken his girlfriend for an outing at the lake. To make the outing memorable, he had decided to swim and undressed while urging his girlfriend to join in.

Before she could, he accidentally slipped on a rock and fell into the lake.

The devastated girlfriend, Gladys Gombe, said she had reached out for him and managed to grab his arm. However, she had slipped and plunged in the icy waters of the fresh-water lake. She panicked and screamed for help hoping to attract the attention of a group of swimmers. They didn’t hear her.

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Her drowning boyfriend clung to her and risked dragging her under. Luckily, her groping hand found a rocky outcrop which she grabbed and dragged herself to safety. Her boyfriend, sensing he wouldn’t make it, let her go and sunk to his death.

“He was overwhelmed by the water. I felt his hand release me and that is when I was able to crawl away to safety,” said the teary girl.

Several local divers came out and frantically started diving, searching for the body. The search was called off after the night fell and resumed on Monday morning. The body was retrieved in mid-morning at a deep section of the lake where it was trapped by rocks.

Local residents have termed the Lake Challa as a death trap with several deaths being reported in the past years.

On Friday last week, a villager is said to have drowned while swimming on the same site. His body was retrieved on Saturday and buried the same day.

Joseph Ndira, a brother of the deceased, appealed to the government to have a divers’ unit stationed near the lake to avoid more deaths.

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He said death by drowning in Lake Challa and Jipe were becoming too common as tourists and unsuspecting locals flocked to the lakes to enjoy the cool ambience of the water bodies.

“We are losing too many people and there is need to have a diving unit for rescue operation being based here,” he said.

Mama Agnes Samanya, a resident of Challa, said the local administration should erect posters warning people against swimming in the lake. She said authorities should go further and ban reckless and unsupervised swimming in the lakes to save lives.

Lake Challa is a trans-boundary fresh-water lake that straddles both Kenya and Tanzania at the border. UK’s Royal Navy and marine researchers from Israel reportedly visit the lake for diving practices.

In 2002, Kenya government banned swimming at Lake Challa after 18-year old Amy Nicholls, a UK-student, was attacked and killed by a crocodile.

KNA by Wagema Mwangi

MPASHO TV