Harrison Okene, who was a 29-year-old cook, was the only survivor of the Jacson-4, which capsized after being battered by heavy swells and waves. Eleven other crew members died as the vessel sank some 12 miles (20 km) off Nigeria’s mangrove-lined coast.
A group of 12 sailors on board Jacson-4 found themselves at the centre of a storm during their routine trip in May earlier this year. The boat was small and weak and could not fight the storm and simply overturned throwing all the crew overboard and into the water. 11 of the sailors on board perished, while a 29-year-old cook Harrison Okene miraculously survived the ordeal. Scroll down for the actual footage of the rescue
Okene explained the moment when disaster struck; he said that he was on the toilet when the tugboat started shaking violently, due to the high speed of the boat the shaking felt like a fast jolt.
When he struggled to reach for the emergency door, he had to literally crawl out of the cabin, and when he got out, he witnessed the horror when three of his friends were literally swept off their feet and were swallowed by the waves.
Okene was still in the initial state of shock of losing his mates when the boat lurched and threw him into the nearby toilet, this was when he realized that the boat was going down. Soon after that, Okene found himself trapped in an air bubble in the cabin.
Speaking about his horror in the cabin Okene said that he was surrounded by pitch darkness and noise that numbed his ear drums. He said that the only thing that he could do at that time was to pray to the God and constantly shout for help, he had no idea what was happening to him, at one stage he wasn’t even sure if he was alive or was slowly dying.
Okene’s ordeal lasted a whole 60 hours when he heard some intelligible hammering noise on the deck, he couldn’t believe his luck. By that time a group of South African divers had arrived at the scene on a body recovery mission assuming that some of the members may still have been alive after the capsizing of the boat.
“When we came out, I saw the stars in the sky and I thought I must have been in the water for the whole day,” Okene told The Nation. “It was after I left the DCC [decompression chamber] that I was told that I had spent over two days there.”
The diving team was shocked to find Okene alive underwater, and even after determining that he was alive their fears did not go away.
As a diver’s light approached, Okene hesitated to swim outside the air pocket in case the startled diver might use a jack-knife on him. “I went to the water and touched the diver. He himself shivered from fear. So I stepped back and just held my hand in the waters and waved it in front of his camera so they would see the images above deck.”
Okene’s body had attained so much nitrogen that the doctors feared his heart would fail once out of the water, however, Okene survived after spending 48 hours in decompressing chamber that brought all his body functions to normal by releasing all the gas in his system.