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Saturday 20 July 2019
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Mother recalls nightmare of sons trapped in oil seep

HAVING received the miracle she so desperately prayed for on Wednesday, when her two sons were saved from drowning in an oil seep at Point Fortin, Frederica Hodge will tomorrow hold a thanksgiving service.

“I prayed and prayed while they were rescuing my children. God spared their lives and that is enough for me to give Him thanks. I kept asking God to spare them and He granted me a miracle,” Hodge said yesterday during an interview at her home.

When she heard what had happened to her sons Darold Clarke, 13, and Adiel Cyrus, 12, Hodge looked to the sky, closed her eyes and prayed. An agonising hour and a half later, her prayers were answered. “God blessed that child (Darold). He saved his brother while risking his own life and was very calm during the ordeal.”

The mother of four, a Spiritual Baptist, repeatedly thanked God during the interview and also praised those people who saved her sons from the oil seep in the forests off Techier Road, Egypt Village. “As the people were trying to pull them out, Adiel looked at me and said, ‘mammy, help me, I go dead’!”

“All this time, Darold was calm. God spared them and somehow the oil released its hold on them. God is good to them. They are partners in crime.” Had it not been for God and her son Darold, Hodge said she was sure she would have lost Adiel.

“It was like the pitch sucking the lives out of them. Darold went to save Adiel and he kept saying he could not leave his brother there. Darold was holding up Adiel’s head from going down. He was calm although half of his body was in the oil.

“Adiel was not calm which is understandable under the circumstances. He kept crying out for help as his brother prevented him from being totally submerged. Villagers came out and really helped. Using Dawn (cleaning product) and pitch-oil everyone chipped in and cleaned up the boys after they were pulled out.”

The boys, who attend a nearby primary school, were discharged from San Fernando General Hospital on Thursday evening having been kept for observation. Their stepfather Kenneth Small, who was among the rescuers, was partially submerged while trying to save them. He too is out of the hospital.

The boys were playing on Wednesday afternoon when Adiel tripped and fell into the seep while trying to retrieve a kite on state-owned land. He began to sink and Darold, 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.

Commenting on the call by residents for the area to be secured, Hodge said: “I have always heard about the cows sinking in the oil. The area needs to be secured, hunters pass that area regularly. Right now, my focus is on the boys. I am not putting blame on anyone.”

She referred to the boys as “vibrant kids” and asked that their photos not be published for personal reasons. In the Parliament yesterday, Energy and Energy Industries Minister Franklin Khan said proper signage will be put up in the area and “possibly some barriers” after the Carnival.

In a release from Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS), corporate secretary Gary Aboud said the organisation is shocked at the “near death disaster.”

“These citizens should be given the best care available as there may be long term degenerative effects,” Aboud said, “Until all oil and gas facilities are safe and regulated, FFOS calls on the Government to declare a hydrocarbon state of emergency.”

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