HAVING allegedly swallowed 15 cows over the past few years, an oil seep at Egypt Village in Point Fortin almost claimed the lives of two boys on Wednesday.
The heroic actions of their stepfather, villagers and fire and police officers led to the rescue the boys —Adelle Cyrus, 12, and his brother Darrel Clarke, 13 — who were almost fully submerged. But the task was not an easy one as the area seemed to have a mind of its own and played a game of tug-of-war with the rescuers. The stepfather, identified as Kenneth Small, and several firemen began sinking and were themselves rescued.
After an hour-and-a-half later, the boys and Small, smeared with oil, were taken the Point Fortin hospital and later transferred to the San Fernando General Hospital. Up to late yesterday, they remained at the hospital with their mother Frederica Hodge at their side. Residents told Newsday that shortly before 4 pm on Wednesday, the boys were riding a bike and flying a kite near the bushy area of Techier Road at the back of the Egypt Village Government Primary School.
Police said Cyrus tripped and fell into the seep while trying to retrieve the kite. He began to sink and Clarke, in trying to pull out his brother, also began sinking. Another young cousin who was playing with them ran out and called the boys’ mother.
One of the rescuers Keron “Lizard” Frederick, 34, yesterday said villagers saw the frantic mother running through a track to the forested area. Not knowing the reason for her speed, they joined her and found the boys almost submerged in the thick, black oil.
Frederick said: “One was holding up his brother’s head and he too was sinking. I had to cut down a tree for people to walk on to get closer to the boys. The firefighters were also going down and the oil reached the height of their boots. The ladder they were using got stuck to the oil and is still here,” said Frederick.
Frederick said he and his family lost about 15 cows in the area where the boys were sinking. Had relatives not been alerted to the incident, the boys would have died.
“There are about 15 cows under there. It (oil seep) swallowed the animals. Whatever goes inside there is preserved – it sinks and never resurfaces. Luckily, the boys got help in time. In the rainy season, the area here is hard and not sticky as it is right now.”
Residents referred to the area as an oil dam formed by recurring leaks from a pumping jack and called on the authorities to secure the property immediately.
Another rescuer Wayne “Buskie” Huyghue said he was liming with Frederick on Wednesday when he saw his aunt Hodge running through the tracks.
“I call her out and the speed she was going with, I say something wrong. I could not get them out alone. The oil was like glue and I saw my little cousins trapped in it. If this was blocked off, this would have never happened,” Huyghue said. It is state lands owned by the now-defunct Petrotrin.
State-owned company Heritage Petroleum, in a release yesterday, said some of its HSE personnel helped pull out the three people from the “naturally occurring oil seep area”. They worked alongside members of fire service and the Atlantic emergency response team to rescue the victims.
“They are currently all in stable condition and expected to be discharged today (yesterday). In accordance with its corporate social responsibility philosophy, Heritage has provided appropriate support and assistance to the affected persons accordingly.”
Newsday attempted to reach the mother and boys but was unsuccessful. Point Fortin police are investigating.