Olayemi Matthew had flagged down a tricycle in front of the popular Olympic Hotel in Felele, Lokoja, to take him to Nataco when on impulse he decided to look over his shoulder and saw a tanker on top speed heading their way.
He immediately jumped over a wide culvert and ran further away from the expressway, sensing the impending danger.
Incidentally, the tricycle he was to board became the first casualty of the accident with the truck crushing it with its occupants.
“When I looked back, the tanker had crushed the tricycle I intended to enter, while pushing three other vehicles into a drainage and four other tricycles, burning all the occupants in a very loud unimaginable explosion,” he said.
“There was a primary school close to the scene, I rushed into the school and forced the children to escape through the back door before the fire reached there,” he added.
According to him, the casualty figure doubled the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) statistics.
“Even before they (FRSC) arrived the scene, we had evacuated 26 corpses that were taken away by relations and when the FRSC came 23 burnt bodies were recovered,” he said.
For Malam Musa Eneye, a deputy provost with the Kogi State Polytechnic, it was also a lucky escape.
He was on his way to work in his Mercedes Benz car with one of his daughters and two others when suddenly his car was brushed from the rear, with impact pushing it the road before the tanker landed on its side on top of five vehicles.
“We were five in the car, including one of my daughters and some of the school staff.
“Immediately I entered the main road, I did not see any petrol tanker coming behind,” he said.
He said his car was brushed when he slowed down to take a bend to his daughter’s school.
However, unlike the two above, a Felele based business man identified to be Samson Ajala who sold sewing machines was not lucky, having been killed alongside his family members.
Mathew said he saw when the truck hit the Toyota Highlander car carrying the deceased and his passengers and the ensuing inferno which consumed them.
The deceased’s friend, Mr. John Mbonu, a radio technician, said the late Samson whom he referred to as ‘Mr. Jovial’ was a gentle and upright man whose death has created a very big vacuum that would be difficult to fill.
He was said to have a habit of dropping off his children in school and his wife at her shop before heading to his own shop and had left home a few minutes when disaster struck.
Like the Samsons, Aisha, Aisha Junior, Wasila, Faiza, Ibrahim and Abdul-mutalib lost their lives in the accident.
Aisha Salihu was an SS 3 student of the Army Day Secondary School Lokoja while her siblings attended Lokongoma Secondary School in Lokoja.
Aisha Junior and Ibrahim attended a private school inside the town.
They were all heading to school when the incident happened.