It’s devastating burying son that should inter me, life’s unfair – Mum of Imo guard killed by truck
When some residents and traders left their homes on Saturday, May 1, for Nkwommiri market in the Nwangele Local Government Area of Imo State, some of them were unaware that they wouldn’t return alive. Others who escaped death by a whisker are currently nursing broken legs and arms. The disaster was caused by a truck which lost control and rammed into the market. The market holds every four days and situated near a river.
There were conflicting figures regarding the number of casualties. But our correspondent’s investigation revealed that about 10 people died in the disaster. As of now, the whereabouts of a 12-year-old boy hawking bread is still unknown. While many suspected that the boy was buried beneath the truck which crashed into the Nwangele River close to the Nwangele LGA, others hoped that he might have escaped. But the boy’s family is worried because he had yet to return home days after the incident.
The incident which happened around noon at the intersection between Anara-Orlu and Amaigbo–Amaraku Expressway left many wounded and were rushed to nearby hospitals.
Our correspondent gathered that the truck which was descending a hill, lost control and killed some women traders before plunging into the Nwangele Rivers.
An eyewitness, Adolphus Adolphus, said some of the victims were pushed into the nearby river by the truck. He stated that the community members battled to retrieve those trapped between the truck and some affected vehicles.
He said, “The worst happened that day. A truck lost control and killed women trading on the road at Nkwommiri. About 10 people were crushed to death and many others trapped.’’
Another eyewitness, Frank Ozuruigbo, said that the community worked with government officials to rescue those trapped.
Speaking about the incident, the state police spokesperson, Orlando Ikeokwu, said two people died on the spot and efforts were made to rescue those trapped.
One of the victims and 46-year-old guard, Emeka Orisakwe’s body parts were dismembered by the truck. He was buried the same day in his compound at Umuozu in the Nwangele LGA of the state.
It was a highly emotional moment when our correspondent visited his family house a day after his interment. While his younger brother, Chidozie Orisakwe, who just returned from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, was seen rolling on top of his elder brother’s grave, their aged mother wept profusely.
The 78-year-old widow, Mrs Margaret Orisakwe, told our correspondent that death had dealt her and the family a big blow.
The widow who spoke to our correspondent in Igbo said that it was sad that she buried her first son who she hoped would give her a “befitting burial” whenever death comes.
She stated that when her deceased son told her on Saturday morning that he was going to the market, she was unaware that he wouldn’t return alive.
The distraught widow said, “Life has dealt me a big blow. We saw each other in the morning of Saturday. He told me he was going to the market. That was the last conversation I had with him. The next thing I heard was that my son who was full of life has been killed by a truck that lost control. This is unfortunate. If at this age I buried my son, a first son for that matter, who will then bury me when I die?
“I think life is wicked to me. This wasn’t my bargain with life and my son never told me he was going to die nor did he tell me I was the one to bury him. I am devastated. I think life has cheated me and it is devastating to say the least.”
It was gathered that Emeka Orisakwe, Chinedu Nwaiwu and a tricycle driver, Emeka Anukwute, all died in the tricycle, while 37-year-old Chisom Nwodo, from Enugu State, who was on a visit to Isiala Mbano and returning to Anambra State, was confined to a wheelchair.
Our correspondent who visited Nwaiwu’s house in Umuozu, observed a pensive mood in an atmosphere ridden with anguish. His kinsmen were seen digging his grave in preparation for the burial of the 44-year-old contractor. His eldest brother, Mr Chijioke Nwaiwu, cried uncontrollably as sympathisers tried in futility to console him.
Many were baffled that Nwaiwu, who was conscious after the incident and revealed that Orisakwe was trapped beneath the truck, died the next day at Umuguma General Hospital, Owerri, where he was transferred due to internal bleeding.
Nwaiwu’s parents were dead and he had yet to marry before the calamity. His elder brother, Chijioke, who spoke with Saturday PUNCH, said “I am in pain. Chinedu is dead. He died in the accident and we planned to bury him immediately. There was no sign that he was going to die as he was strong after the accident. He was taken to Umuguma General Hospital, Owerri where he gave up the ghost on Sunday morning.”
At Amaigbo, the family house of a popular tricycle driver, Anukwute, popularly known as Day-by-Day, tears flowed unendingly. His widowed mother, Amaka Anukwute, was grief-stricken when our correspondent arrived in the compound.
While sympathisers tried to console her, the 63-year-old widow said, “Yes, I am his wife. I am his first wife. I am finished. He was just 30-year- old.”
Our correspondent observed as a pastor placed a hand on the woman and prayed God to console her.
The woman, who managed to speak with our correspondent in her emotional state, said, “He was only 30 years old. He was not married. He was the one who moulded the blocks on the floor. He planned to first build a house and send his younger brother abroad before talking about marriage.”
At the Joint Special Hospital in Amaigbo, one of the nurses told our correspondent that eight emergency cases were rushed to the hospital.
Some of the survivors who spoke to our correspondent on hospital beds said that they could not remember anything other than that they were at the accident scene and later taken to hospitals.
Nwodo who lost three people in the tricycle she was in also said she couldn’t recall anything.
The 27-year-old said, “I am from Enugu State. My mother and I came for a burial in Mbano. I was travelling to Orlu from where I would board a vehicle to Anambra State when the accident happened. I couldn’t remember anything because I lost consciousness only to regain consciousness at the hospital. I was told that the driver and two other persons in the tricycle I was in died. I sustained a bone fracture and that is why I am in a wheelchair. I want the government to help me so that I can walk again.”
Another survivor, Chidi Ohiaeri, who was badly injured, also spoke with our correspondent from the hospital bed. Surrounded by his wife and relatives, the 50-year-old father of five children, said he was a commercial motorcyclist.
The survivor who managed to utter some words said that he was carrying a passenger when the accident occurred. He said that he couldn’t remember other things.
Another survivor, who was Ohiaeri’s passenger, Austin Onyeanufuru, from Umuchoko-Umuozu, said that he was happy to be alive. He said he would return to the hospital for further medical examination to know if he had internal injury.
Mrs Happiness Nmezi from Umuanya, who spoke to our correspondent on the phone from her hospital bed, said she was at the market to buy some things when the incident occurred. Nmezi added that she was unconscious thereafter and only woke up at the hospital.
Our correspondent who visited the scene of the accident observed that an angry mob had set the truck ablaze. Other vehicles involved in the crash were seen at the scene.
A community leader, Valentine Uzoechi, told Saturday PUNCH that the incident was avoidable if the government had expanded the raiding and made the place comfortable for trading activities.
However, a member representing Nwangele/Nkwerre/ Njaba/ Isu federal constituency in the House of Representatives, Ugonna Ozurigbo, who promised to pay the survivors’ hospital bills, told our correspondent that he would use his position to attract Federal Government’s attention to the market.