By Dayo Johnson, Akure
TONGUES have continued to wag over the death of two 300-level students of the Federal University of Technolgy, Akure (FUTA) while reportedly taking selfie aboard a boat which capsized in a15 – feet deep pond.“Olokun Babatunde Alex of the Project Management Technology Department and Olabiyi Emmanuel of the Agricultural and Environmental Engineering Department were among four students who went on the “journey” in the boat anchored at the harbor beside the university’s laboratory.“The deaths shook the institution to the foundation as different versions of what the students could be doing in a rickety boat that had been abandoned in the pond emerged. While some submitted that it was a dangerous trip by the four students, others said the deaths were mysterious.
Findings showed that the students, who had gone for their entrepreneurship training course, ended inside the deep water as the rickety canoe capsized.
Two were able to swim to safety while the two others perished.
Sunday Vanguard learnt that the entrepreneurship training course took place at the laboratory of the Fishery and Aquaculture Department. The pond is situated nearby.
Sources narrated that after the training session, the four students stayed back to take pictures of themselves on water.
The unexpected happened as the students took time to pose for selfie. The boat capsized leaving them helpless.
Sunday Vanguard understood that while two of the students who survived – both of the Department of Marine Science and Technology -swam to safety, Olabiyi and Olokun drowned.
Efforts by the rescue team mobilised by the FUTA Students Union and the school management proved abortive as only one of the two students was found while the other was deep down inside the water.
The one who was found however died on the way to hospital.
The university’s Students Union President, Adeyinka Olaseinde, confirmed the dead of Olokun on the way to hospital.
Olaseinde said: “It saddens me that we lost two of our great students in this manner.
“We got the school ambulance and they came around after we heard about incident. It took the rescue team almost an hour before they could locate one of the students who was still breathing but died before he was rushed to hospital. The other student was not located until two hours after the search began because the pond is 15 – ft deep and he was dead.”
Olasehinde advised the management to put up safety measures at places with inherent dangers in the campus.
The Students Union leader said he had it tough convincing a large number of students not to protest over the deaths, saying he was overwhelmed by calls to protest.
One of Olokun’s classmates, Onyena Nehemiah, at the Project Management Department, said the death of his friend was shocking. Nehemiah described the deceased as someone loved by all students.
He said it was unfortunate that he could not survive the first aid administered on him.
“He is my departmental friend and we were called to the scene. I carried him and I even called his name. We administered first aid on him but he died before we got to hospital”, he lamented.
“Alex was loved by all because he was lively, jovial and was always well behaved. We will surely miss him”.
Meanwhile, another version of the drowning by a student, Adeleke Babatunde, who claimed to have witnessed the accident, denied that the victims were taking selfie.
Babatunde said: “All of them dropped their phones with their friends, so what phone did they use to take selfie?
“The went into the boat despite being warned not to because the boat was not in good condition.
” They were four in the boat. One of the survivors tried to help one of the colleagues drowning but his weight was dragging him down, so he had abandon him to swim to safety”.
FUTA Dean of Students, Prof. Kayode Alese, while sympathizing with the families of the deceased and the entire students of the university, described the incident as unfortunate.
Alese said no fewer than 15 divers from the Marine Department of the school, the fire service of the school and emergency services officials from Ondo State government were called for the rescue mission.
He assured that the management of the institution will put in place proactive safety measures in the campus.
“It was after their practical and they felt like enjoying themselves and they stayed back and, you know, youthful exuberance, in the process, the unfortunate happened. We did everything possible to save them.
“The university management will meet and review the situation and come up with safety measures so that nothing of such will happen in the future.”
The management of the institution also described as unfortunate the death of the students.“The Head of Information and Protocol Unit of FUTA, Mr Adegbenro Adebanjo, sympathized with the students and their families.
His statement read: “The university is deeply saddened by the unfortunate incident .The parents of the deceased have all been notified .Our prayers are with them at this very trying and difficult time and the university commiserates with them and pray that the Almighty God grant them the fortitude to bear the painful loss.”“The deceased students have since been buried in Osogbo, Osun State capital and Akure where their parents reside.