The identity of the driver of a Honda Car which rammed into a parked petrol tanker and was completely burnt along the Enugu-Ogoja Road in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State on Wednesday night has been revealed.
The victim was on Thursday identified as Chimaco, a popular welder and metal fabricator whose workshop is located opposite Crunches Confectionery, Afikpo Road, Abakaliki.
According to one of his apprentices, who summoned courage to speak to our reporter amidst their uncontrolled wailing at the scene of the accident on Thursday morning, Chumaco left his shop shortly before close of work on Wednesday to catch up with some appointments, but never came back till the following morning, which left the family in panic.
Although the body of Chimaco, who was also popularly known as Brain Work, was completely burnt, leaving only few particles of his bones, the apprentice lamented that he recognized very well his burnt Honda Car with registration number APP-607-AR.
The boy, who could not even mention his name out of sorrow, lamented: “I know his vehicle very well.
“The plate number belongs to him.
“This is his car.
“We were all together till 6pm yesterday.
“We normally closed work by 6:20pm.
“He gave us our feeding money and said he was rushing to somewhere.
“He didn’t stay for roll call only for us to come out this morning without seeing him.
“We went to his house and found out that he did not come back home last night.
“The wife has been calling his number and it has been unavailable, and we have tried the number too and it’s saying not reachable.
“So when we got the news of a burnt car along the express we decided to come and check.
“Lo and behold, it is our ‘oga’s’ vehicle.
“Our master’s car was the one that got burnt and we believe he is the one that burnt to ashes.
“His name is Chimaco, but known as Brain work.
“He lives at Umuogharu Ezza North LGA.”
Meanwhile, the petrol tanker was said to have off-loaded its content in Calabar, Cross River State and was on its way back to Enugu, Enugu State when it developed a fault along the African Trans-Saharan highway also known as Enugu – Ogoja Express way, close to the ever busy Akanu Ibiam Flyover, Spera in Deo Junction, Abakaliki metropolis.
The driver of the tanker, with registration number ENU 908 XF, was said to have parked safely beside the road attempting to fix his vehicle when all of a sudden the Honda car rammed into it at top speed and caught fire immediately, with the driver inside.
It also inflicted acute burns on the tanker driver, whose identity could not be ascertained at the time of filing this report and who has also been confirmed dead in the hospital later on Thursday.
Although the tanker driver was said to have been rushed to hospital that Wednesday night, he died on Thursday.
Probing further on the possible cause of the accident, Obinna Anene Henry, who said he was an eyewitness, explained: “The Tanker driver parked to check the fault in his articulated vehicle, he came down to place the caution sign on the road and in that process the small car knocked him down and ran into the tanker and caught fire.
“The driver of the articulated vehicle died instantly and that was why he couldn’t help himself and the small car burnt with its driver inside it.
“The conductor of the tanker had the fire burning on his leg and he ran with it, but somebody answered a call and said the conductor died this morning.”
Another person who pleaded anonymity confirmed that the articulated vehicle had off-loaded its content in Calabar and was on its way to Enugu State when the driver detected a fault at Spera in Deo and looked for a safe place to stop and check the fault.
However, an elderly man who identified himself simply as OJ, narrated: “We saw the articulated vehicle.
“The tire bursted and it was looking for a comfortable place to pack.
“When it parked and as soon as the driver came out and bent down to check the tire, within three seconds this small vehicle came and knocked him down.
“Before we could come out, the vehicle caught fire.
“It was some tricycle (Keke) and motorcycle (Okada) operators around that helped in rescuing the others from the articulated vehicle who where also affected before they were taken to the hospital, but the police and fire service arrived and put off the fire.
“What was brought out of the small vehicle was a very small particle which they said was the remains of the driver of the car.
“We equally learnt that the driver of the tanker died this morning.”
A passerby, who confirmed he knew the welder, said: “When I was going for school run this morning, I saw the accident.
“I stopped and called someone else I suspected having this kind of vehicle, but the person picked and confirmed that it was not his vehicle.
“But while coming back now, I stopped because I couldn’t just pass when I saw these people crying.
“I recognized them to be working with Chimaco, a welder at Afikpo Road.”
Meanwhile the Federal Road Safety Corps in the State has confirmed the incident.
In a telephone conversation, the Head of Operations of the Corps in the State, Charles Eden, said they have deployed operatives to cordon off the place.
Eden said: “We are making arrangements to take the vehicles off the road in order not to cause more accidents on the road.
“Only the driver of the Honda Car was burnt beyond recognition, but the driver of the articulated vehicle who was under the tanker working on his vehicle was saved as the time of the accident and taken to hospital but was in critical condition.
“Sadly, however, feelers from the Alex Ekwueme Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, where the tanker driver was taken for treatment, indicated that he died on Thursday morning.”