THE WEIJA Dam spillway was the scene of yet another disaster, when a group of worshippers were swept away, with three drowning instantly in what observers described as a result of the anger of the Densu River, the source of water for Accra-West residents.
The three people, one man and two women, were drowned while they were deep in prayer on Saturday, November 17.
Without life vests, with eyes closed and shouting at the top of their voices for redemption, they failed to notice the sudden change in the river's tide and were suddenly swept away by a torrential wave, leaving two survivors.
The victims, Doris Yaa Nyame, Faustina Obeng and Emmanuel Akwasi were members of the Ghana Holy Order of Cherubim and Seraphim Prayer Group, an all-white-garment church at Bubuashie, Accra, while the survivors are pastor Charles Kofi Tutu and Bernice Adoma, a student in a Nursing Training College in Eastern Region.
They were all 'prayer warriors' of the church who had accompanied Pastor Tutu to the river for 'spiritual cleansing'.
According to an eyewitness, the five worshippers, led by Charles Kofi Tutu, leader of the prayer warriors went out for a spiritual cleansing programme at the spillway, and that the group was knee deep in the water for the prayer session when the pastor realized that the water was sweeping away the three victims.
Dazed by the bizarre incident, Charles Tutu threw himself into the water in a bid to rescue the warriors, before realizing that he was also being carried away.
He therefore shouted for help while at the same time gulping down the water.
Within seconds, the water also swept Bernice from her feet and carried her away before she was rescued by a fisherman.
DAILY GUIDE gathered that it took the brave assistance of Seth Awudi, the fisherman, and Robert Gyan of the Seventh Day Adventists (SDA) to save Bernice and Charles, who escaped death by a whisker.
According to Robert, who was also at the river side for a similar spiritual exercise, they had hardly finished with a baptism by the SDA for some new converts, when they were attracted to the accident scene by some distressed calls.
He explained that at about 5.00pm that fateful day, there were shouts for help from the Oblogo end of the spillway, prompting him and Seth Awudi, who is also a canoe operator, to rush to their aid.
Robert grabbed Charles Tutu, the prayer warrior while Seth rescued Bernice, the truant nursing student who has since returned to school, DAILY GUIDE has been informed.
Robert said they managed to rescue the survivors but could not reach the other three. It took a larger team of divers three long days to retrieve all the three bodies from the river. One body was retrieved the same day.
The bodies of the deceased have since been deposited at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital for post-mortem examinations.
Meanwhile, the leader of the group, Charles Kofi Tutu is assisting the police in their investigations and may be prosecuted for manslaughter.
The Weija Dam spillway has become a venue for spiritual expeditions, with occasional mishaps claiming mostly worshippers with white garments as victims.
And even though it is not safe to do so, many churches have found it fashionable to hold many of their programmes there.
Speaking to the media, the Weija District Police Commander, ASP John Animpong, appealed to such churches to always consult residents at the river banks and other local people for information on the safe spots of the spillway.
“If these people had consulted the local people in the area, I don't think this unfortunate incident would have happened,” he said.
The group leader, Charles Tutu, later told the police that they were praying knee-deep in the water when they started to drown.
He said they shouted for help and caught the attention of Seth and Robert. The police arrived at the scene much later after the incident.
The body of one of the deceased has been released to the family at Dodowa in the Greater Accra Region for burial, DAILY GUIDE has learnt.
By Bennett Akuaku