His body was thrown along the narrow passageway as the water poured in. Every agonizing, piercing impact from the disorganized rubble was felt by him.
He was aware of what had happened to the ship and its crew out in the pitch-blackness, as well as what would undoubtedly happen to him. There were only two possibilities for his rescue.
For Harrison Okene, he knew the ocean was a dangerous place. There were rogue waves, pirates, and severe storms.
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However, there was also a decent paycheck for anyone brave enough. So, as he prepped the crew’s meal and listen to the tugboat’s motor chug as it pulled along the enormous oil tanker, he counted his blessings.
He didn’t even care that the company rules said they had to lock themselves in their rooms at night, just in case of pirate attacks.
However, Harrison had no idea that a nightmarish string of events was about to unfold. It started with a simple trip to the bathroom.
He was used to the sway of the ship as it heaved against the currents.
But as a thundering crash filled his ears and the floor suddenly became the wall, he knew one of the worst things had happened – they had capsized. He wretched open the door, and the rush of water flung him like a rag doll down the corridor.
We watched his crewmates swept away and everything go black. Harrison found himself in a small room with a two-foot gap of air … that wasn’t filling up with salt water.
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It was a miracle. Somehow, he had survived the first obstacle. But he wasn’t out of the clear.
Trying To Survive
It was a blind, panicked race to the next room, where thankfully a bigger air pocket waited. He stripped the paneling of the wall with shivering hands and tossed it on the floating mattress.
He had to get out of the water before he froze to death. More than anything, he had to find a way to get home to his family.
The darkness stretched on forever. The only thing that kept him company in the blackness was the bobbing debris.
But then came the sounds … and smells. The underwater predators had found his friends in the other rooms … and were feasting. Harrison gripped the mattress and sobbed, praying to God to save him.
Was this his fate? Had he only survived to be a meal for some hungry shark? Would he ever get to hug his mother again or tell his father how much he loved him?
Was help even coming or did the big oil company feel fine leaving the boat on the bottom of the ocean floor? The swirl of fears and questions were relentless.
As Harrison felt his body become weak, he wondered if the floating, underwater lights were angels coming to take his soul away? Was it even worth fighting anymore?
His single bottle of coke was gone, the air wouldn’t last much longer, and the saltwater was already stripping away layers of his skin. He reached out.
A Real Hand
Suddenly a hand reached out and grabbed his. This wasn’t a hallucination?! Help was there?! A huge diving helmet rose out of the water and wide eyes stared at him in utter surprise.
The rescue diver patted him on the shoulder and gave him the thumbs up. Harrison, however, wasn’t out of the woods yet.
His body shook uncontrollably – from the cold and the utter joy of such and unbelievable rescue.
But through the microphone in the diver’s helmet, he heard how he had been there too long and the team above was trying to figure out how to get him to the surface safely. It wasn’t long until an empty helmet was put into his hands. The plan was simple.
It had been three days to get a deep-sea salvage saturation diving team to the location. By then, everyone had braced for the fact it was a body-retrieval mission.
They weren’t prepared for any survivors. So, there was only one thing to do. Harrison embraced the frigid waters as they slowly pulled him into a decompression bell-chamber.
He sipped on water while the tears uncontrollably streamed down his cheeks. The divers sat around him explaining what had happened. There was an immediate first time on site just after the tugboat went down, but they had banged on the hull with no response.
That’s why it took days to come back with a better team – they needed better gear and people for a longer salvage operation. They had no idea Harrison had been down there and alive for the three days.
“Three days?!” Harrison exclaimed, choking on his drink. The entire ordeal had been so disorienting, he thought he had only been done there for 12 hours!
It would take four more days before he would be allowed to leave the decompression chamber. But he had no problem with that.
A Million-To-One Odds
He was alive and floating above the waves once again! He put his head in his hands and prayed.
The only thing that had saved him was going to the bathroom at that moment and being lucky enough to find an air pocket. It really was a miracle.
Figuring Out Where He Was
Harrison was now safe and sound, which was more than could be said for his shipmates. He was grateful for his soul being saved after his long ordeal. But he knew he had to make things right for his crew.
But first, he had to recover from the experience. The next three days ahead of him would take a lot of patience to get through.
Sealed In A Metal Box
Harrison had gone from being trapped in a metal coffin underwater to being sealed in a metal box. He at least thanked his stars that he would be released soon, and all he needed to get through this was positive thoughts.
All the time he spent in the decompression chamber would be spent hatching a plan. He knew what he wanted to do as soon as he got out.
Racked With Guilt
Harrison was racked by guilt over his lost crew. He knew a few of them had family members that must have been devastated. But while he was in the chamber, he had nothing to do.
The only possessions he had were the clothes the divers gave him and the daily food they’d send into the chamber for him. It was beyond miserable, but he was a patient man.
Hatching His Plan
He would need resources if he wanted to pull this off. Something that he didn’t have after the tragic accident. He knew he’d need help from others that he probably didn’t even know.
But Harrison had a lot of ambition. Just a short while ago, he was nothing but a cook on a fishing boat. But now, he would try to accomplish much more with the gift he was given.
The three days inside the chamber passed slowly, but Harrison knew he had all the time in the world to try and accomplish what he wanted to.
He’d thank the rescue divers for everything they did for him. For saving him and looking after him for three days. But before he did anything, he had to go to the hospital.
Going For A Checkup
Harrison was forced to go to a hospital once he was no longer at risk of decompression sickness. He had been through a lot, after all, and it was the best thing for him, even if he didn’t think it was necessary.
He was taken to the hospital free of charge, where a doctor would look at him. Once he was in the office, he went through extensive tests and x-rays. Finally, the doctor gave him the news.
The Doctor’s Opinion
After all of the results came back, the doctor called Harrison into his office and told him his opinion. Harrison felt nervous. This is why he hated going to the doctor. They always found something wrong.
The doctor looked at him and smiled. He reassured Harrison that there were no complications from the accident and that he would be perfectly fine. Harrison was ecstatic, but the company that owned the ship paid him a visit.
The corporation that sponsored the fishing boat wanted to know exactly what went wrong. This was unfortunate for Harrison because he’d be brought in for questioning.
It was an entire day of questioning to get through, and Harrison had to oblige them. After 6 hours of writing up and telling them his account, they were finally satisfied.
The truth was that Harrison didn’t actually know why the boat had sunk that stormy night. The corporation was insured, so they got financial aid, but what about the poor men?
Harrison was disgusted that the corporation seemed to care more about how the accident occurred for legal reasoning rather than the lives that were lost.
Doing Something Drastic
Harrison already wanted to do something for the people on the boat with him. But now, he had a burning desire to make the public aware of what the company was doing. He wouldn’t let this go.
He took to social media because he needed help and support. There, he couldn’t expect to get the following he did.
After making the public aware of what was going on, many people cried out in agreement. People all over social media expressed their disgust with what was happening.
But one anonymous person online would do something that would make tears form in Harrison’s eyes. No one could have expected something like this.
Found A Private Page Online
Harrison saw the outreach of support, but one person decided to make a page online that Harrison needed to see. He got an anonymous message online pointing him toward it.
“You have to see this,” was all the message read. But when he opened it, he was beyond shocked.
Harrison had heard about GoFundMe, but he never expected to ever have anything to do with it. When he clicked on the link cautiously, he couldn’t believe what he saw.
“To raise money for Harrison Okene and the families of the men that lost their lives in a boating accident.” Tears formed in his eyes. This was a miracle.
The Kindness Of A Stranger
A stranger, in an act of kindness, set up a GoFundMe page for him. He was beyond surprised. This would mean that he would be able to help the families just like he wanted.
But the next surprise would come when he looked at how much money had been raised. He broke down crying.
The amount of money that had been raised was 30,000 dollars! This was more money than Harrison could have earned in a year! He would split the money evenly between the families of the crew and himself.
Harrison had lost hope when the corporation didn’t give him anything for what had happened. But his faith was restored when he saw the kindness of people around the world.
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events, places, or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.