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This is the hand, the hand that saves
December 4, 2013 9:16 AM   Subscribe

"The divers had already pulled up four bodies. So when a hand appeared on the TV screen Walker was monitoring in the rescue boat, showing what the diver in the Jascon saw, everybody assumed it was another corpse." Harrison Odjegba Okene survived three days of darkness and isolation when he was trapped in a sunken tugboat, breathing from an air bubble and listening to the sounds of his shipmates being eaten by fish. His amazing rescue hit the news this spring. (Previously.) The actual video of his rescue has now been widely distributed. Short version. Long version, with an appropriate but inappropriate piece of jaunty music at the end.
posted by maudlin (40 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wasn't this mentioned in a comment within the last day or two?

(Also, I can't watch it because I need to sleep again ever.)
posted by wenestvedt at 9:18 AM on December 4, 2013


If I were the diver who got grabbed by the hand that belonged to what I'd assumed was a corpse, I'm pretty sure I'd never go diving again.
posted by skycrashesdown at 9:20 AM on December 4, 2013 [13 favorites]


One of the most frightening and harrowing pieces of video I've ever seen. And with a happy ending, to boot!
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:22 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


skycrashesdown, so you think you just hose the poop out the wet suit as soon as you get to the surface, or what?
posted by wenestvedt at 9:23 AM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


I totally posted this yesterday and it got deleted as double. No offense, maudlin, but I hope your does too cause I'm actually that petty.
posted by nooneyouknow at 9:29 AM on December 4, 2013 [12 favorites]


(I'll ask the mods about the double issue -- I obviously didn't see this week's deleted post).
posted by maudlin at 9:31 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am so happy for this poor guy and I am amazed the diver didn't die in fright when Mr. Okene grabbed back. I'm pretty sure I would have.
posted by longdaysjourney at 9:34 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Seriously, though, looking at the original post, it looks like the video wasn't in it, so I hope this post stays, because the video is great.
posted by nooneyouknow at 9:42 AM on December 4, 2013


Yeah, on review that video really is kind of a crazy new thing. Let's keep this, with apologetic hugs to nooneyouknow for the rug-pull.
posted by cortex at 9:45 AM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's not really a double; the point of the new articles is the video of the rescue, which was not available when the first article was posted in June. The deleter wasn't really paying complete attention.
posted by tavella at 9:54 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


The helium effect on the diver's voice adds to the video's eeriness. It strikes me that I've never seen a movie about deep-sea diving that uses this effect.
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:55 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


helium effect in scene from The Big Blue
posted by tigrrrlily at 10:05 AM on December 4, 2013


I'm fairly certain I'd keel over from a heart attack if I were that diver.

I can't even imagine that feeling of being trapped - nope, nope, nope.
posted by drewbage1847 at 10:23 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love the reaction heard over the radio from the guy on the surface (who obviously has a live video feed) when the diver freaks out. "What's the matter? Oh, you found one [a dead body]. Oh he's alive!"
posted by exogenous at 10:30 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Please can someone clarify - does the video actually show the rescued seemingly-dead-body dude reach out and grab the diver? Because if so AAAH NOT SURE IF WANT
posted by elizardbits at 10:39 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I heard this on the radio the other evening -- it was the guy on the surface talking the divers through it -- and it was eerie, and also calming. You could feel the guy's professionalism and certainty and it sort of washed over everything. What? A survivor? Oh this is nothing. Nothing at all. Here's what you do.

"Okay. Just keep him calm and let him know he'll be OK."

Muffled diver voice.

"Okay. Just reassure him. Okay. Alright."

Trapped in an air bubble for three days! What that must do to one's head.
posted by notyou at 10:44 AM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


"The cook? They always survive."
posted by thefool at 10:51 AM on December 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


does the video actually show the rescued seemingly-dead-body dude reach out and grab the diver

It does show exactly that, yes

Followed by a SCUBA lesson

It's pretty awesome
posted by ook at 10:57 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


does the video actually show the rescued seemingly-dead-body dude reach out and grab the diver? Because if so AAAH NOT SURE IF WANT

You see a hand and a small part of his arm that look like they are floating, and the scuba diver is telling his boss on the radio "I found a body" and then the scuba diver reaches out to the hand and then the hand moves and grabs the scuba diver, and then the scuba diver and his boss freak out for a second and then they calm down, then you see Harrison in his air bubble and the diver and his boss start planning on how to rescue him. It's awesome.
posted by nooneyouknow at 11:03 AM on December 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


In the long version, the comms guy does verge on condescending at some points, when they are suiting Okene up. I know the repeated injunctions not to panic to a guy who is clearly pretty calm are meant well, but "don't take your hat off, yeah?" I'm pretty sure that you can say diving helmet, if Okene speaks English at all, and that he probably grasps he should not remove it while under water.
posted by tavella at 11:06 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


tavella: In the long version, the comms guy does verge on condescending at some points, when they are suiting Okene up.

SCUBAsplaining
posted by Rock Steady at 11:07 AM on December 4, 2013 [10 favorites]


On the subject of "cooks always survive", I am reminded of Charles Joughin, chief baker on the Titanic, who treaded water in the freezing North Atlantic for at least two hours before being pulled into a lifeboat.
posted by tavella at 11:17 AM on December 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


One person's "clearly pretty calm" is another's "very possibly deeply, deeply, deeply in shock and thus not to have 'oh he'll follow along just fine!' assumed in any way whatsoever" to another.
posted by Drastic at 11:19 AM on December 4, 2013 [14 favorites]


thefool: "The cook? They always survive."

tavella: On the subject of "cooks always survive", I am reminded of Charles Joughin, chief baker on the Titanic, who treaded water in the freezing North Atlantic for at least two hours before being pulled into a lifeboat.

That's way more classy than what I thought about: Under Siege, starring Steven Seagal as the former Navy SEAL, now cook, who is the only person who can stop a gang of terrorists when they seize control of a US Navy battleship.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:25 AM on December 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


Okene was responding appropriately to all questions and instructions, from 'drink your water' to 'what's your name' to 'give me a thumbs up'. He clearly wasn't in any kind of deep shock. I don't think it was any kind of awful crime, but there was a certain "talking to a child" quality that was a little annoying.
posted by tavella at 11:31 AM on December 4, 2013


I guess I've seen too many movies, because if I'd been that diver and what I thought was a corpse grabbed me, the folks back at mission control would have heard me screaming (in a voice pitched even higher than the helium had already been making it), "ZOMBIE! ZOMBIE! THE FUCK IS MY SPEARGUN?! I TOLD YOU BASTARDS TO PUT ONE IN MY LOADOUT!"

Nuff respect to Mr. Okene and everyone involved in that rescue.
posted by lord_wolf at 11:45 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I freaked out proper seeing the hand-grasping reaction and the only thing that brought normality back here was the invention of the word SCUBAsplaining.
posted by dabitch at 12:17 PM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


One person's "clearly pretty calm" is another's "very possibly deeply, deeply, deeply in shock and thus not to have 'oh he'll follow along just fine!' assumed in any way whatsoever" to another.

And from way on the other end of a radio signal! Keep the messages simple and clear and be sure that everybody involved understands the plan.

If I had just been trapped in an air bubble on the bottom of the ocean for three days (while the fishies nearby by chewed on my mates), but still nevertheless in complete control of my faculties, I'd absolutely want the folks rescuing me to hold my hand and say soothing things to me ALL THE UP TO BREATHABLE AIR.

And maybe for a couple of hours afterward.
posted by notyou at 12:21 PM on December 4, 2013 [12 favorites]


I don't think it was any kind of awful crime, but there was a certain "talking to a child" quality that was a little annoying.

He was communicating life or death instructions to a man who'd been trapped for three days in a sunken boat thirty meters underwater—a boat on which all eleven of his compatriots had died—with zero contact with the outside world and not in the man's native tongue. I think I'll cut the guy a little slack for not speaking in fucking iambic pentameter, or whatever.
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:26 PM on December 4, 2013 [30 favorites]


I don't think it was any kind of awful crime, but there was a certain "talking to a child" quality that was a little annoying.

My SCUBA class was a bit like this. One of my classmates thought it was condescending, but my view was that there are countless ways you can screw up and painfully kill yourself underwater. It's the instructor's job to drill into your head everything you need to do to prevent that from happening. Sometimes people panic when trying to breathe underwater for the first time and do counterintuitive things like tear their mask off. That's why the first time you try it generally happens in a pool and not 100 feet underwater.
posted by TungstenChef at 12:50 PM on December 4, 2013 [7 favorites]


I demand they refilm this in iambic pentameter.

ahem.

I can only assume the controller's repeated instruction to "keep him calm" was partly to focus the diver, because if anyone was going to freak the fuck out right then, my money isn't going to be on the guy getting rescued...
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 12:58 PM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


tavella: "In the long version, the comms guy does verge on condescending at some points, when they are suiting Okene up. I know the repeated injunctions not to panic to a guy who is clearly pretty calm are meant well, but "don't take your hat off, yeah?" I'm pretty sure that you can say diving helmet, if Okene speaks English at all, and that he probably grasps he should not remove it while under water."

There's a HUGE difference in rationality between you, sitting on your comfy computer chair surrounded by AN EARTHFUL OF AIR, and a human being near death who's spent 3 days rebreathing the air trapped in a submerged boat.

Rescuers can easily be drowned by panicking victims, during the rescue.

And the takeaway? "Hey, dude, thanks for saving my life, but you could have sounded a little less condescending when you were getting ready to do it."
posted by IAmBroom at 1:07 PM on December 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


Okene was responding appropriately to all questions and instructions

Yeah, there's a clear protocol to be followed when a recovery dive for 3-day-old corpses turns into a rescue dive and despite Mr. Okene's clearly labeled personnel file having the correct documentation of the original licensing and appropriately-spaced refresher courses in such a common situation, the diver chose to "wing it". Christ, what an asshole.
posted by disconnect at 1:12 PM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Mr. Okene is never going to have any serious problem ever again. Other than the nightmares, maybe.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 5:58 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's awesome.

Understatement of the year.

...because if anyone was going to freak the fuck out right then, my money isn't going to be on the guy getting rescued...

Oh, I don't know. I certainly wouldn't have faulted the guy if he'd wrapped around the diver like an octopus.

What a brave man. What an astounding rescue.
posted by BlueHorse at 6:20 PM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


[Cross-post, duplicate comment from the Imperial Japan I-401 super-sub post (because the comment is more relevant here):]
That story of the man who survived [Slate link] multiple days in the air bubble is [also] quite interesting [in a chemistry sense].

tl;dr : when people are trapped in enclosed spaces, they don't usually die from lack of air, but rather because once the available air gets to be about 5% carbon dioxide (due to the persons exhalations), they lose consciousness and die pretty shortly afterwards.

The man stuck in the bubble, had the luck to be surrounded by icy seawater... the cold water was very efficient at absorbing the CO² from the air, thus letting the air last longer in a useful (breathable, not 5% CO²-saturated) form.

If he had been trapped in say, a similar-sized air-tight meat locker, he would have died pretty quickly (again, because of the CO² buildup). That said, it's lucky he was rescued when he was since otherwise he faced living longer only to die of thirst (lack of drinking water).
posted by blueberry at 7:10 PM on December 4
posted by blueberry at 9:01 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


There is something beautiful about the moment in the video where the diver squeezes Harrison's hand in reassurance. Then the thumbs up and the "What's your name?" I'm lumpy throated here.
posted by Legomancer at 5:46 AM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I know the repeated injunctions not to panic to a guy who is clearly pretty calm are meant well, but "don't take your hat off, yeah?" ?" I'm pretty sure that you can say diving helmet, if Okene speaks English at all, and that he probably grasps he should not remove it while under water.


Aherm. Hi, I'm the person who would need to be reminded of this in the water because I would immediately rip it off in a blind panic the minute my head dipped below the water's surface. I ended up having a spectacular freak-out the first time that I tried snorkeling - ripped my mask and mouthpiece off and went sprinting across a coral reef barefoot headed for the nearest piece of land I could find. So many things about being underwater terrify me. So I don't think that they're being condescending, I think they're trying to minimize the very real risk of an overwhelming panic attack.
posted by echolalia67 at 5:29 PM on December 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Okene gave an interview a few days ago. No, he's not going back to sea after this.
posted by maudlin at 3:07 PM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Okene described a surreal scene after the diver emerged into the air pocket.

“I knew when he gave me water he was observing me (to see) if I’m really human, because he was afraid,” he told the AP last Thursday.


Interesting to hear it from his point of view. I don't blame him one bit for never going back to sea.
posted by dabitch at 2:22 PM on December 13, 2013


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