The thought of a shipwreck is harrowing, but for Harrison Okene, his worst fears became a reality. Okene, a 29-year-old ship’s cook was working on the tugboat Jascon 4 with eleven other crew members. In the early hours of the morning on May 26, 2013, the boat capsized.
However, due to an incredible stroke of luck, over 62 hours after the boat sunk off the Nigerian coast, divers rescued Okene. He had been saved by an air pocket measuring only four feet. No one else survived the wreck.
Scroll down for the actual footage of the rescue
At 5 am on the morning of the wreck, the tug was caught in rough seas while towing a Chevron oil tanker in the Gulf of Guinea. The crew members were all locked in their cabins, presumably asleep at the time. Although that may seem a bit strange, according to The Telegraph, locking doors is a safeguard against piracy.
Then, the boat began to capsize. Okene was in the bathroom at the time rather than locked in his own cabin. He stumbled around from cabin to cabin in the dark, and fortunately for him, the one that he ended up in happened to have an air bubble that allowed him to survive.
Okene said that he was very scared during the ordeal and wasn’t sure he’d survive. Fox News Insider reports that he was 100 feet under the ocean, an impressive depth.
He could hear large fish he thought might be barracudas or sharks thrashing about close to where he was and he had only a plank for defense. He could only imagine that they might be feeding on the body of one of the other members of the ship’s crew. Okene was also very cold, and he says that he survived the ordeal by praying to God.
Although his rescue is remarkable, the rescuers almost didn’t find Okene. The Telegraph reports that at one point the ship’s cook could hear sounds that resembled paddling and divers’ crafts in the water.
He could hear what sounded like an anchor dropping and even thought he could hear the rescuers hammering, but it sounded like it was far away. Trying to get their attention, Okene hammered on the wall of the cabin he was trapped in with a hammer he found, but the divers did not hear him and he was left alone once more.
Luckily, the divers returned, though, and Okene decided to take matters into his own hands. He left his air pocket and went in search of the divers himself, locating them thanks to their lights. He tapped a rescue diver on the shoulder, and the diver was stunned when he realized Okene was not another dead body, of which they had found 10.
Although he was found, Okene’s ordeal was not yet over. The rescuers used a diving helmet and harness to bring him to a diving bell and then to the surface. When he first surfaced and saw stars, Okene thought that he might have been trapped for only 12 hours and was stunned when he was told he’d been trapped for over 2 days.
Additionally, Okene had been trapped underwater at depths where The Guardian reports that recreational divers would typically spend only 20 minutes due to decompression needs. Okene had been at that depth for over two days, and his heart contained so much nitrogen, they were not sure he would be able to live once he made it to the surface.
After spending two days in a decompression chamber, however, Okene recovered. He suffered from peeling skin due to the salt water as well as nightmares, but the fact that he survived at all when no one else from the capsized boat did is nothing short of a miracle.