Only few people in the world today can boast of being to ‘hell’ and back. Nwakoro Kennth Chinedu, 29, is one of them.
On April 5, 2013, Chinedu did not only visit ‘hell’ but majestically sauntered back to earth despite the glaring hurdles encountered along the way. After visiting siblings for the Easter season that year, Chinedu, 23 at the time, had looked forward to arriving Enugu where he lived with his parents safely. But midway into that journey, deep into Benin-Ore Expressway, tragedy struck. The 29-year-old lives with scar from that deadly episode.
“Few hours into the journey, close to Benin, a pastor that prayed at the beginning stood up again to initiate another prayer session. He was speaking in tongues all the time. At a point, I got very tired and slept off. By the time I woke up, I realized the bus I boarded had been engulfed with fire”. He said.
Still speaking, he said a tanker filled with petrol had hit their bus and pushed it to the path of an oncoming trailer loaded with cement. The heavy-duty truck collided with the bus and threw it on top of the fuel tanker.
“Everything happened so fast and soon the entire place was on fire. Everybody was screaming but I stayed calm even though I was thinking about death. The thought of not seeing my parents and siblings again filled my mind,” he thought.
In the midst of that chaos, I managed to seize my breath a bit in order to sustain some energy to escape. My hands were already getting burnt at this point, so I used my shoe to break the window close to me. But immediately I did that, other people started pulling me back; they wanted to escape before me. All these things happened very fast.
I kicked most of the others with my legs and jumped out of the bus. In a matter of minutes, the entire bus burst in flames. I ran as fast as my legs could carry me despite the fire on my body Chinedu narrated.
“After walking for close to 15 minutes, I got to a village where people poured water on me and took me to a local clinic where a liquid substance was rubbed on my burnt body. The liquid known as GV (Gentian violet) contaminated my skin and this led to an infection. By the next day, my body was swollen.
“I had difficulty breathing as everybody wanted to see me, but whenever I remembered that I was the only survivor, I had faith, that I would survive.
“I called my sister in Lagos and informed her of the accident. My dad was very sick at the time but immediately he heard the news, he got better.
“He and my brother came to see me the next morning. They were shaken by the extent of my injuries. My father didn’t understand how I survived with such burns,” he said.
When about to leave for Enugu, the health worker and local doctor who shelter him demanded cash worth 100,000 naira each for the first aid and care rendered for the night, before they will allow him.
Arriving Enugu at 8:00pm, my mum insisted she wanted to see me first and immediately she did, she ran away. She later came back to hug me,” he said.
After he got to his base in Enugu, he faced some form of rejection as hospitals were scared to admit him due to the severity of his burns. It was a difficult period for the young man.
Many hospitals turned him down in Enugu until he got to an orthopedic hospital. I was taken to the emergency ward where they peeled my burnt skins, sprayed a peppery substance on my skin to heal the burns. After one month, they did skin grafting for me.
At some point, the process got infected and my hand started decaying. They had to fix it. I spent about four months in the hospital and wrote my final examination from the hospital.
“In all of these, I was always wearing a smile’, he said.
Speaking on how he was able to recover, Chinedu attributed the speed to his faith in God and adherence to doctors’ prescription in addition to his mother’s prayers.
Even though the 29-year-old has made a remarkable recovery since that deadly experience, his survival had not come without its own cost. To lessen the effects of the scar, the young man has had to dig deep into his pockets to maintain his ‘new’ skin.
He can’t stay under the sun for too long as a result of the burns I suffered because if I do, my body will start itching him, and It is now more expensive to take care of himself after the accident and as a result he has to work extremely hard to come up with the money needed to do so. For example, I spend close to N85, 000 on medications and cream for his skin monthly. I can’t stay in a place without air conditioner. That is how much that incident has changed his life.
“But despite these challenges, today 5th April been his 7th year survivor anniversary, Chinedu is grateful to God to have brought him out of that deadly fire alive. God indeed brought me back from the dead,” he said.