TODAY – As a South African rescue diver probed the wreckage of an overturned tugboat in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Nigeria this summer, it was assumed that all he’d be doing would be recovering the bodies of those who perished.
However, as he was swimming through the murky water inside the capsized boat on May 28, a hand suddenly reached toward him out of the gloom.
It was the ship’s cook, Harrison Okene, who had somehow survived for approximately 60 hours in only his underwear in the freezing cold water by breathing from a small air pocket and taking sips of Coca-Cola.
Video of Okene’s dramatic rescue in May shows the moment his hand penetrated the darkness to alert the diver that he was still alive. Then it a shirtless Okene is shown from the waist up.
“He’s alive! He’s alive!” the diver exclaims to a colleague on the surface who is guiding him.
“Just reassure him,” the diver’s colleague says. “Just reassure him. Pat him on the shoulder.”
Okene was the only one of 12 crew members who survived when the Jacon-4 tugboat capsized on May 26 in heavy Atlantic storm swells after assisting an oil tanker that was filling up at a Chevron platform. Divers recovered 10 other bodies; one other crew member was never found.
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