For the second time in less than 2 years, an early-morning fatal accident in a two-mile stretch of Highway between the Keystone and Van Horne blacktops has killed a native of the Congo who fled to Iowa following the unrest and violence of that area of Africa.
On Thursday, the Iowa State Patrol responded to the report of a one-vehicle roll-over accident with a passenger ejection west of 18th Avenue on Highway 30 at 5:25 a.m. According to the ISP, a driver Nabintu Baguma, 28, of Cedar Rapids, was headed west on Highway 30 with four passengers inside. The ISP says Baguma attempted to pass a semi, and then noticed an oncoming car in the eastbound lane. She swerved into the ditch to avoid a collision and the vehicle rolled into the south ditch.
The woman who was pronounced dead at the scene was Aziza Nikuze, 40. Injured were: The driver, Baguma; Olusina Oladipo Coker, 46; Yada Iddy, 43; and Zephyre N. Kasigwa, 50. All had Cedar Rapids addresses.
Baguma is a Congoese native.
Nikuze, also originally from the Congo, was also a refugee who settled in Cedar Rapids.
In February of 2016, three people from the Congoese Christian community died in an accident on Highway 30, east of 16th Avenue, less than two miles from Thursday’s crash. That crash, in snowy driving conditions, claimed the lives of three Congoese natives and injured seven more. All 10 were passengers in the same vehicle, a minivan.
The Congoese community members who died in that crash were:
Michka Kabeya, age 34, was married and had a seven-year-old daughter. His wife survived the accident but was hospitalized in critical condition. Kabeya had arrived in the USA in October 2015, less than four months earlier, with a lottery visa.
Dickson Mandiki, age 36, also married with one child. He had moved to Cedar Rapids recently for job opportunity. He has been in the USA for less than 6 months. He also came with the lottery visa.
Platini Namputu, age 30. He was single and arrived in the USA in November 2015 with a lottery visa.
Many of the Congoese immigrants had found employment at the Iowa Premium Beef facility in Tama.
Those immigrants had fled the violence in Congon and came to America with the goal of learning English, finding meaningful work and then bringing their families, if possible, to live here, Boumedien Kasha, the Vice President of the Congolese Community of Iowa (CCI), told Vinton Today in 2016.
See an earlier story about Congoese immigrants in the Cedar Rapids area HERE.