The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

U.N. ambassador’s motorcade strikes boy in Cameroon, killing him

Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, talks to Cameroon External Relations Minister Mbella Mbella after arriving in Yaounde, Cameroon, on April 17. (Andrew Harnik/AP)
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A vehicle in a motorcade transporting Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, in a violence-prone area of northern Cameroon struck and killed a boy Monday as it sped down a two-lane roadway.

The incident involving Power’s motorcade underscored the perils of dignitary transportation as their convoys move at high levels of speed, even in densely populated areas. Numerous deaths have resulted over the years, both of police officers who are part of a motorcade and of civilians drawn to the spectacle.

In Monday’s incident, Power was in northern Cameroon visiting refugee camps and talking with local officials about the threat posed in the region by Boko Haram, which the Global Terrorism Index has named the world’s deadliest terrorism group. While en route to a refugee camp, her motorcade passed near the small city of Maroua.

According to news reports from Cameroon, villagers lined the road to watch the motorcade speed past. A 7-year-old boy unexpectedly dashed into the road, and the sixth car in the motorcade, an armored Jeep, had no time to swerve away, the reports said. The driver was Cameroonian, but it could not immediately be determined whether he was employed by the U.S. Embassy or was part of a local police guard escorting Power, several aides and journalists.

The Associated Press reported that just before the child was struck, a man was observed running to the street with his arms raised high in an attempt to stop the child. The AP said the driver stopped the car, but U.S. security forces ordered him to leave because the area was unsecure. The injured boy was treated by medics in an ambulance accompanying the caravan and was transported to a hospital.

Power returned to the scene later in the day to meet with the boy’s family and extend her condolences in person, according to the U.S. mission to the United Nations.

“We are deeply saddened and offer our sincere condolences to the child’s family,” said a statement released by the mission.

Motorcades transporting senior government officials and candidates have been involved in numerous incidents causing injuries and casualties.

In 2009, for example, a pedestrian died after being struck by two vehicles that were part of Vice President Biden’s motorcade as it sped along the Suitland Parkway after leaving Andrews Air Force Base.