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19-month-old baby survives accident that killed 2 U.S. soldiers, Kenyan mom charged

The daughter of a former Kenyan minister has been slapped with Sh66 million bail after being charged with vehicular homicide

Washington State Patrol footage

Candy Soita, the daughter of former Kenyan Minister Soita Shitanda, has been charged with vehicular homicide in the United States.

The charges stem from a fatal accident that occurred on June 2, 2024, in Pierce County, Washington.

Soita faces two counts of vehicular homicide and one count of vehicular assault following the crash that claimed the lives of two soldiers and injured another.

During her arraignment at Pierce County Superior Court on Wednesday, a plea of not guilty was entered on her behalf. Court Commissioner Barbara McInvaille set her bail at $500,000.

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The fatal incident occurred around 2:00 a.m. when Soita, driving east in the westbound lanes of state Route 512, collided with a vehicle driven by 29-year-old Charles T. Fairbairn of Georgia.

Both Fairbairn and his passenger, 22-year-old Wendell T. Cerio of Arizona, died at the scene. Another 22-year-old soldier in Fairbairn’s vehicle survived his injuries.

Soita had a 19-month-old baby girl in her car at the time of the crash. Both Soita and her daughter were taken to medical facilities, with Soita receiving treatment at Tacoma General Hospital and her daughter being treated for a fractured hand at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital.

According to a military spokesperson, all three men involved in the crash were soldiers stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

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"We are saddened to learn that two 7th Infantry Division soldiers passed following an off-post vehicle accident the morning of June 2, 2024. One additional 7th Infantry Division soldier was admitted to the hospital where they have since been released. Our thoughts are with the families and friends of these soldiers during this difficult time. This incident remains under investigation," the spokesperson said in a statement.

Authorities reported that a trooper who contacted Soita at the hospital detected the odour of intoxicants on her breath and noted her bloodshot, watery eyes.

Soita admitted to having consumed alcohol, counting up to four on her fingers when asked how many drinks she had.

A Preliminary Breath Test taken approximately four hours after the crash showed a blood alcohol concentration of 0.097, which is above the legal limit of 0.08 in Washington.

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The case remains under investigation, and further details will be provided as they become available.

This tragic incident has sparked widespread concern and highlights the dangers of impaired driving. Our thoughts are with the families of the deceased and all those affected by this unfortunate event.

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