LAGOS, Nigeria — A Nigerian man who miraculously survived after spending three days at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean is crediting God for sustaining his life.
In May of this year, 12 men aboard the Jacson 4 found themselves in the fight of their life when their tugboard capsized off the African coast. One man, Harrison Odjegba Okene, who was the cook for the team, was in the bathroom when the incident occurred. It was very early—approximately 4:30 a.m.
Okene told reporters this week that after the ship turned over, he searched for an air pocket, piled a couple of mattresses on a rack and waited—for three days. He was dressed in only his boxers and could hear sea creatures fighting over their next meal.
However, the night before, Okene’s wife had texted him some Psalms, as the couple is Christian. He recalled those Psalms as he waited patiently 100 feet below the surface.
“I started calling on the name of God,” Okene told the Nation. “I started reminiscing on the verses I read before I slept. I read the Bible from Psalms 54 to 92. My wife had sent me the verses to read that night when she called me before I went to bed.”
“O God, by your name, save me,” he recited. “The Lord sustains my life.”
As Okene waited, temperatures dropped to freezing and oxygen levels began running low. But he trusted in God.
On the third day, a group of divers with DCN Diving located Okene. As they had only recovered dead bodies thus far, at first, they thought they had located another corpse. But when Okene grasped onto one of the diver’s hands, the team was stunned.
“What’s that? He’s alive! He’s alive!” a voice can be heard exclaiming on video footage of the rescue, which went viral this week. “What is your name?”
They then provided Okene with an oxygen mask and transported him to a decompression chamber before bringing him to the surface.
“It was frightening for everybody,” DCN project manager Tony Walker, who watched the rescue unfold from a central control room at the surface, told CTV News. “[It was frightening] for the guy that was trapped because he didn’t know what was happening. It was a shock for the diver while he was down there looking for bodies, and we (in the control room) shot back when the hand grabbed him on the screen.”
He told the publication that Okene would not have lasted much longer had the team not found him when they did.
“He was incredibly lucky he was in an air pocket but he would have had a limited time [before] … he wouldn’t be able to breathe anymore,” Walker said.
The divers also spent longer than usual searching underwater that day, which added to the wonder of the rescue.
But Okene says that he believes that God spared his life and is said to be seen giving thanks to God in the recorded footage.
“Good job, my friend,” the rescue supervisor declared as the team prepared to bring Okene to the surface. “You’re a survivor!”