Chukwudi Akasike and Idris Adesina
No fewer than 29 members of the Rivers State contingent to the National Youth Games in Ilorin sustained varying degree of injuries after their bus crashed into a stationary vehicle while returning to Port Harcourt on Monday.
It was learnt that the team were travelling in a convoy of over five buses. The accident, it was learnt, occurred at Emohua, about 40km to Port Harcourt.
According to one of the coaches, Akeem Kareem, the first bus in the convoy ran into a stationary vehicle, with the second team bus ramming into the first one.
Kareem said, “We left Ilorin in a convoy, and everything was going fine till we got to Emohua. It was getting dark and it was also raining, so the visibility was poor.
“There was a trailer abandoned in the middle of the road without any road sign. The first bus rammed into that trailer while the second team bus rammed into the first one.”
It was learnt that some of the athletes and officials in the two buses were severely injured in the crash.
“Some sustained minor injuries but most of them sustained critical injuries which affected different part of their bodies. Those with minor injuries have however been discharged,” a source told one of our correspondents.
The Rivers State Sports Council spokesman, Barisi Wifa, who also confirmed the incident, told one of our correspondents that those affected included athletes, coaches and a policeman.
He said, “For the safety of our teams, when they are travelling in a large convoy of more than four buses. There are usually a number of policemen attached to the team. It was an avoidable accident if those who parked the trailer had left a road sign, but we are grateful no life was lost.
“Many of them are still in hospital and we cannot say when they will be discharged. Those injured include athletes, coaches, team medical personnel and one or two policemen.”
Rivers finished in 16th position at the 2017 NYG with two gold, four silver and three bronze.
The state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mr. Emma Okah, said only a few athletes sustained injuries in the accident.
“Yes, it happened on Sunday night when they were returning from Ilorin around Emohua area of the East-West Road. The athletes are receiving treatment,” Okah told one of our correspondents in a telephone interview on Wednesday.
“Nobody died, but different degrees of injuries. Some of them are being treated at the Braithwaite Memorial Hospital (in Port Harcourt). For now, I don’t have the number of those affected.”