Category: Weird Articles
Published on Monday, 02 September 2013 00:00
Human life is a fragile thing. All it takes to end one could be a simple misplaced step out onto the road or a slip in the shower. However, the sheer willpower and determination to stay alive runs in our veins, and some people have displayed the ability to cheat death even when all odds are against them, like this Nigerian man who was found alive in a ship on the ocean’s floor.
Harrison Okene had it made. At 29-years-old, he had a stable job working as a boat cook and found the woman of his dreams he was about to tie the knot with… until tragedy struck in the name of Poseidon.
On May 26 2013 around 4.30am, Okene woke up from his sleeping chambers to take a leak. The vessel he was on decided that it too should take a leak. A big, big leak. Just off the coast of Nigeria in the choppy Atlantic waters, the Chevron oil service tugboat lost to the violent waves and flipped over with everyone on board. It still remains a mystery as to how and why the ship capsized but a Chevron official blamed it on a “sudden ocean swell” which translates to, “shit happens, but it was nature that caused it, definitely not our sturdy yet rickety Chevron ship, no siree! Because it is an act of God, we are not required to offer huge compensations! Take it up with God or Poseidon… whoever is in charge.”
Okene was thrown around like a ragdoll in the crew’s toilet as water rapidly gushed into the ship. The tugboat sank 100 feet down onto the ocean’s floor.
“I was dazed and everywhere was dark as I was thrown from one end of the small cubicle to another,” he recounted in an interview with The Nation.
Incarcerated in a cold, dark abyss where no one can hear you scream, you would expect anyone to start freaking their asses off, but Okene remained calm as he groped around trying to locate a light source. Wearing nothing but his boxers, he blindly felt his way around the vessel until he found an object with two flashing lights.
“I saw a light vest with two lights. It showed me that that was a room. When I went to another room, I saw a draw with tools. I took out the lights (from the vest) and put them inside my boxers,” he recalled.
Okene then retreated to a part of the vessel where he felt the safest and began the long, desponding wait for the rescue that might never come. As he waited, the water level in the cabin rose, and he tried to keep the water back from him as far as he could by stacking mattresses. With some tools that he found, he constructed a rack to place on top of the platform.
While bunking in the 4-foot air pocket, Okene reminisced about his life and kept praying for help.
“I prayed about a hundred times. When I was tired, I started calling on the name of God. I was just calling on His name for divine intervention. I started reminiscing on the verses I read before I slept. I read the Bible from Psalm 54 to 92. My wife had sent me the verses to read that night when she called me before I went to bed,” he said.
Through praying and replaying his life in his mind, Okene wondered about the fate of his friends and colleagues who were in the ship. He then felt movement and heard noises around him, but it was not the rescue he was hoping for. The movements and noises came from sharks and barracudas swimming in and out of the adjoining spaces, looking to make meals out of the very friends he was just thinking about, and possibly him as well. He heard splashes and sounds of the fishes fighting for scraps of flesh from the dead men.
“At that point I was very scared,” he said. But Okene was determined not to go down without a fight. He found a plank in which he could use as a weapon to fend off the unwanted visitors should they choose to attack.
“I said so this is how I am going to die? What would happen to my wife? So, she will become a widow. I don’t even have a child yet. What about my mother and everybody I love? So I will never see them again!”
The main focus on his mind was to survive. So despite being cold, hungry and scared, he clung on to that small sliver of hope that a rescue team would find him in time. He had no watch on him and he had no clue that he had been holed up in that little air space for two days. In normal circumstances, he would have been dead in just a few hours after he found the air pocket from asphyxiation (depleting oxygen and increasing carbon dioxide). However, that did not happen to him because under the unusual and somewhat fortunate situation, Boyle’s law happened. Boyle’s law states that when atmospheric pressure is increased (in this case, submerged 100 feet underwater), gases become denser. Therefore, the small 4-foot high pocket of air contained more oxygen than it would on land. At the same time, the icy cold water absorbs the carbon dioxide Okene was giving out and it never built up to toxic levels.
After what might seem like a lifetime to Okene, he heard the unmistakable hum of a boat’s engine.
“Then I heard sound like anchor dropping again. I also heard sound of paddling and divers’ craft moving around the boat. I also heard hammering sound from afar,” Okene said.
Okene knew that this could be his one and only chance of escaping his impending watery death. He waddled across the water to look for more tools and found a hammer. Moving at lightning speed, he stripped off the wall of the cabin until he got to the steel body and he started pounding like hell on it with the hammer.
“I started using the hammer to hit the wall to attract the divers. I heard them moving about. They were far away from where I was. I did that for some minutes and stopped. After a while, the sound died.”
As the sound of the rescue team faded away, so did Okene’s hopes for getting rescued.
An obscure moment later, Okene heard another sound and it was closer this time. There was also movement in the water beneath him. He plunged into the freezing water and went in search of the other diver.
“My hands and feet were very white (pale). When I located him, I was the one who touched the diver, I touched his head and he was shocked. He was searching and I just saw the light, so I jumped into the water. As he was shocked, he stretched out his hands. I touched him,” Okene recalled.
After almost scaring the shit out of his rescuer, he was quickly brought up to surface where he reunited with his family and shocked the world with his miraculous survival story.