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Things went south when it started raining heavily, as the river filled with debris, and the boat capsized. Blankson did not hesitate to embark on a rescue mission which saw him swim in and out of the river for 13 times to rescue victims before drowning on the 14th attempt owing to the fact that he was exhausted. Sadly, the deceased who rescued 13 passengers was the only fatality recorded in the accident owing to the fact that others (including his sisters) were rescued by people in the vicinity alongside other boat drivers. A day after the accident, Blankson’s body was recovered and buried on the same day in the river in line with the customs of burying people who had died through drowning in the community. A service of songs was held in his honour.
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Until his death, Blankson who was born on October 29, 1979, in Bakana Degema, Rivers State, was a contractor working with an oil and gas firm in Port Harcourt, the capital city of Rivers State. The second son to Elizabeth Blankson and her late husband. Joe Blankson met his wife, Mercy Blankson, in 2012 during their National Youth Service Corps orientation camping exercise in Obubra, Cross River State. They got married the following year and bore three children before losing one to a fatal fire accident on December 25, 2016. He died leaving behind his wife and two kids, a four-year-old son and a seven months old daughter at the time. Recounting memories of her late husband, Mercy Blankson, described him as ‘’selfless’’ and revealed that he always made people’s problems his priority.
‘He was a loving and caring man, a very good father to our kids. He put people first, before himself. He was selfless… I was at home waiting for him to come back from work because he works on Saturdays. From work, he went to the village, and when I called him at 2 pm, his phone was switched off.’ Mercy BlanksonIn honour of his memory, Blankson’s wife and family set up The Joe Blankson Foundation on July 29, 2019, with the major aim of training people on how to swim and safety routines for maritime travels. At the time of his death, former Nigerian Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, both tweeted about the incident and hailed Joseph Blankson for his heroics. Governor Nyesom Wike had also pledged support for his family. Source: CNN Featured Image Source: AutoJosh
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