NAIROBI, Kenya – Kenyan marathon runner Wesley Ngetich was fatally shot with an arrow, the second international athlete to die as Kenya struggles with an explosion of postelection chaos, a sports official said Tuesday.
David Okeyo, head of Athletics Kenya, the governing body for Kenyan sports, confirmed the death but had no details on the circumstances. Police had no immediate comment.
A fellow athlete, however, said Ngetich was caught in the crossfire of a dispute between two ethnic groups Monday in Trans Mara, on the outskirts of Kenya's legendary Masai Mara game reserve. The death had nothing to do with the election violence, said William Yiampoy, a neighbor and one of Kenya's top 800-meter runners.
"It's not true he died because of the election violence in Kenya," Yiampoy told The Associated Press, citing eyewitnesses in their village. He said a man from Ngetich's tribe had shot a boy with an arrow, and the other group was avenging the attack. Ngetich was hit accidentally, Yiampoy said.
Another athlete, former Olympic runner Lucas Sang, was hacked to death in western Kenya during the election violence.
Ngetich, 34, won the Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota, in 2005 and 2007. He and at least a dozen other Kenyans withdrew from the Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Marathon and Half Marathon because of the political strife in Kenya.
"We're shocked because we became very good friends with Wesley," said Scott Keenan, executive director of Grandma's Marathon. "The city of Duluth kind of adopted him, and he kind of adopted the city of Duluth, and we were expecting him to return and defend his title."
Agent Hussein Makke said Ngetich told him earlier this month that he has 150 cows — but that it would take 1,000 cows to make him a big man in his village.
"This was really his main focus, to become a money-maker from running," Makke said.