4 January 2014

Kenya: Ex-CJ Gicheru Survives Night in Cold Forest

FORMER Chief Justice Evans Gicheru is undergoing treatment at the Nairobi Hospital after spending more than 15 hours in the cold inside the game sanctuary at Nyeri Country Club on Thursday night.

Gicheru, who suffers from diabetes, was found by a foot path unharmed in what medical sources described as a "semi-coma". The former CJ checked into the resort with his wife and two children on Thursday evening at about 6pm.

But after taking tea together, he strolled into the forest alone where it is believed he got lost. The 1,300 acre forest has dangerous animals like leopards, hyenas and warthogs, all confined within its boundaries by an electrical fence.

A notice at the gate warns: "Wild animals can be dangerous and they roam freely in this area. Visitors wishing to enter the club's game sanctuary must be accompanied by a guide." Gicheru was found three kilometers from his room where he had collapsed in exhaustion.

More than 200 officers from the Kenya Police, AP, KWS rangers and sanctuary management and sniffer dogs were dispatched to search for him the whole night.

They combed the forest at night but only found the former CJ yesterday at 8.30am after he leaned on the electric fence, which triggered a sensor in the hotel.

An ambulance from the Outspan Hospital in Nyeri arrived moments later and doctors treated him before he was airlifted to Nairobi Hospital on a KWS chopper.

Central region operations officer Ephantus Kiura, who led police officers at the scene, said they were unable to trace Gicheru at night due to darkness and bad weather.

"He is safe but has been affected since he spent the night in the cold. He was not injured by any animal. He had no communication gadget and so could not be traced easily," Kiura said.

"We searched for him for more than fifteen hours, however we were able to get him in the morning seated on the roadside in semi coma. He was however resuscitated by a medical officer before being airlifted to Nairobi Hospital. Fortunately, he had not been harmed by the animals in the park." Kiura said Gicheru should count himself lucky because he did not stray to the snake park that has many species.

Journalists were blocked from entering the hotel and camped outside the gate for more than five hours. An official informed them that the premise was open to members only. The chopper landed inside the hotel and picked Gicheru, causing panic in the hotel and neigbouring homes.

Residents jammed the gate of the hotel. One woman held prayers at the gate and prayed for Gicheru to recover quickly. Gicheru handed over the mantle to current CJ Willy Mutunga in 2012 and retired.

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