Man Survives 3 Days in a Capsized Boat on the Ocean Floor

The last place you want to be when a disaster strikes is sitting on the toilet, but that’s where Harrison Okene was when a freak wave hit the tugboat he was working on and turned it upside down. The 29-year-old found himself on the floor, with the toilet above him. He had just enough time to see the blood pour from a wound on his head before the lights went off. The bathroom began to fill with water, and Harrison felt the ship touch the seabed — 100 feet below the surface. Water began to fill the cubicle, and Harrison panicked as he struggled to open the door. When he finally emerged into the watery darkness, he had no idea which way he was facing. The propellers were up, the wheelhouse was down, and port and starboard no longer held much meaning. In the alley to the watertight door – an exit hatch – he met 3 of his colleagues. As the water level inside the boat rose, they battled with the hatch. In a move that surely must run counter to every instinct, Harrison turned away from the exit, and swam further inside. As he swam away from the closed exit, the force of the water swept him into another toilet, this one attached to the second engineer’s cabin. The door had shut as he was swept inside and the water level rose, but the bathroom didn't fill completely. In total darkness and silence, Harrison found himself in a strange moment, in a place beyond all maps of human survival. He now understood that he must not leave his base. He thought of his wife and mother, he prayed, and he sang, “Father, we cannot see you, but we can see your wonders,” the words of a hymn he had sung at church. Before he knew it, he heard a different sound. This time it was a diver who had come to put a marker buoy on the vessel to warn other traffic of the wreck’s location. Harrison hammered on the side of the boat, trying to signal the diver outside. Later, the diver saw Harrison’s palm floating in the water and relayed to the base that he had found another body. That’s when Harrison’s hand grabbed the diver. Extricated from the sunken ship, Harrison spent 3 days in a recompression chamber before he was released to go home. Ten years later, Harrison now works as a diver, installing, constructing and making repairs to oil and gas facilities. He says his experience underwater and his survival has changed his life. “I know there is a God, and He is beside me. I know He has a great purpose for me. When humans are close to death, that’s when they understand."