I was returning from retreat today when I saw a child by the roadside. He looked DEAD.

I stopped, reversed and looked closely at the body. There was no sign of life.

I packed at the middle of the road, engaged my hazard lights, alighted from the vehicle and went closer to the body.

He lay face down. There was a wide gash at the back of his head. There was blood on the grass by the roadside. He wasn’t breathing.

A brother priest saw my car and stopped too. By this time other cars had stopped by the side of the road.

We looked around. There was an abandoned Toyota Camry inside the bush nearby. It looked damaged.

We pieced the story together from eye witnesses.

A young lad of about nine years had probably gone to Akho Junction in Irrua to pick some money at a burial ceremony.

From the child’s appearance, he did look a bit rough and uncared for.

We could see a couple of twenty naira notes still stuck in his shirt pocket. A couple more lay about his head.

He probably came there from Obeidu community. We knew this because a bike man said the child had tried to flag him, requesting a ride to Obeidu. The bikeman wasn’t heading that way so he didn’t take the lad.

Minutes later, the boy tried to cross to the other side of the express. There was an oncoming vehicle.

Tires screeched, the car swerved and lost control. The impact of the car on the child was so great, he was knocked into the bushes nearby.

By the time they found his body, he was dead. Helpless, the driver left the child by the roadside and reported himself to the police station.

We waited for the police for a long time at the scene of the accident. We couldn’t leave the boy’s body by the roadside. It felt wrong.

We visited the police station in Irrua, confirmed that the driver of the ill fated vehicle was indeed there, and returned to the scene.

When the police came, we prayed for the dead child, and went on our way. The police remained to finish the details…

The experience knocked me cold.

Was the child hungry?

Why would he go off by himself to pick money from an occasion, along the express?

Who were his parents?

Did they know they had lost a child so violently?

Whose fault was the accident?

Was the driver overspeeding?

Why wasn’t he taken to the hospital at once?

The questions are endless.

A child died today!

I’m positive his death could have been avoided.

Parents and guardians need to try to pay more attention to their kids.

Please, for God’s sake.

People cried today. Tears that could have been saved.


May God rest his soul in peace.


© Oselumhense Anetor, August 13, 2021.