16 Jan 2013

New Zealanders killed in Kenya crash

11:14 pm on 16 January 2013

Three New Zealanders have died after the minivan they were travelling in crashed in Kenya.

The trio were on a trip organised by Bethlehem College, based in Tauranga, which has a partnership with Ark Quest Education Centre in western Kenya.

Parents connected with the college Brian Johnston, an anaesthetist, his wife Grace and former student Caitlin Dickson were killed on Tuesday morning (local time), along with the Kenyan driver.

The minivan lost control during heavy rain, rolled and ended up in a ditch while travelling from the port city of Kisumu to the small village of Mahanga.

The Johnstons leave behind a family of 10 children. Ms Dickson, 19, regularly attended the Bethlehem Baptist Chapel.

Bethlehem College principal Eoin Crosbie told Radio New Zealand's Checkpoint programme on Wednesday they were part of a group of seven adults and 12 students who have been building classrooms for a community in Mahanga since the end of December and were doing what they loved.

"We've had a relationship with this village in Kenya now for three or four years. This is a very underprivileged, deprived community that we're working in in partnership with a group of locals and making a huge impact."

Mr Crosbie said several other students and teachers sustained a variety of minor injuries including broken bones and a dislocated hip and are receiving good care at a private hospital in Kisumu.

He said staff and students are devastated at the news and he would meet with parents of students on the trip on Wednesday night to keep them informed.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it is aware of the accident. Diplomatic staff from the New Zealand High Commission in Pretoria, South Africa, are on their way to Kisumu.