A pastor, Gabriel Tor, who lamented the death of his brother, Donald, in an auto crash on Abuja-Lokoja Road on Facebook, tells TEMITOPE ADETUNJI how the tragedy has affected his family
You made a post on Facebook mourning your brother who you said died in an auto crash. How did it happen?
My name is Gabriel Tor, and I am 44 years old. I am from the Gwer West Local Government Area of Benue State. My brother, Donald, called me on August 19, 2023, a Saturday, saying he would come and worship with me on the following day, Sunday. Later that evening, he said he went somewhere and couldn’t meet up with the church service. He works as an iron bender on construction sites. He used to travel for business contracts, so when he told me that he couldn’t meet me to worship with me in church, I just concluded it was a business contract. I am a pastor and a building technologist as well.
On Thursday, August 24, 2023, the wife called me at 5am, explaining that my brother left home on Monday evening (August 21, 2023). According to her, he said he was traveling to Asaba in Delta State, and since then his phone numbers have not been going through. On the fourth day, two people drove to his residence in Akaraka looking for his wife.
What did they tell her?
They told his wife that her husband was involved in an accident and was taken to Kwali General Hospital, Abuja, and she called me immediately to inform me. When I got to Kwali General Hospital, Abuja, I saw him abandoned. The excuse the hospital’s management gave was that they did not know his relatives, which was why they didn’t attend to him. I was so pissed and unhappy with the situation that I had to move him to the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada, where he later died. During that period, I spent about N500,000.
How old was your brother?
He was 40 years old.
Did you have any conversation with him before moving him away from the hospital?
Yes, when I got to the first hospital, I asked for my brother. I told the nurses we had made enquiries in Asaba, which we believed was his destination, and no one had seen him. More so, his phone was switched off. They asked for his name and told me to go to the emergency unit and check. Then, I sighted my brother in the emergency unit. I greeted him, and he returned the greeting. The first thing I asked him was if they had given him treatment since he arrived and he said no, no drug or medical attention whatsoever. I asked him why that was so and he said the hospital said they didn’t know his family members and how they could be reached. As we were discussing, they (medical workers) brought a paper that they had already recommended that he should be taken to the university teaching hospital in Gwagwalada, and I had to take him there.
Did they tell you anything else?
They brought the paper and added that they had been feeding him and that I had to pay them N37,000, out of which we later paid N20,700. However, I discovered that my brother wasn’t eating. As we were about to move him, a nurse told me my brother was smelling. That was when we found out that my brother had a hole in his back as a result of the accident. They never treated it, but since I was after my brother’s life, after some argument, I eventually paid the money they demanded, looked for a vehicle, and moved him to Gwagwalada, where he was also admitted to the emergency ward. After a day or two, we moved him to the orthopaedic ward.
Did your brother share with you details of how the accident happened?
According to what my brother explained to me, the bus he boarded overtook a car, and he was in the passenger seat beside the driver. So, the bus and the car collided and the impact of the crash made the car somersault, and it landed somewhere. From what he said in his conscious state, only three of the passengers (he and two others) were brought out alive. We transferred my brother to the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada, where he gave up. He died on August 27, 2023.
Where did the accident happen?
The accident occurred along the Abuja-Lokoja Road, between Kwali and Abaji; he didn’t die on the spot. He was taken to Kwali General Hospital and dumped with no treatment for four days. The workers at the hosptial said they didn’t know his relatives. He was later transferred to the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital in Gwagwalada and died three days later.
Were you with him when he died?
My brother gave up in my presence. I was in the hospital while he was groaning in pain. I was hugging him. He tried to stand up amid the pain, and I tried to encourage him to calm down so that the doctor could attend to him. At that time, he was on oxygen. He was in so much pain that he removed the oxygen mask, but I calmed him down and put it back. At a point, his breathing started going down. My elder brother was with me and we tried to adjust the oxygen mask but about 10 minutes later, he (Donald) gave up the ghost. Donald was a kind person; he was nice to the point that he preferred to sort out people’s challenges before attending to his own, especially when it came to finances.
I felt terrible when he died; it was a wasted effort. I felt it was important for him to be taken to the hospital and treated, so I rushed him to the hospital but it was a big shock when he died.
How did his wife react when she was informed about his death?
I am sure it is not an easy experience for her. My late brother married his wife, Happiness, in April 2019. It’s been four years now since they got married, and presently, they have two daughters. Although in the obituary posted (online), we wrote that he was survived by four children and that he had a wife before Happiness, when he went to school, his first wife left him. So, the first two children are with my mother.
How old is his eldest child?
His first child should be about 15 years old because he is in SS2 now. I had a talk with the first wife to get things sorted out with my brother, but it seemed she was no longer interested. I just told my brother that if she wished not to stay, he should allow her to decide without forcing her to stay. So when she left, my brother married Happiness.
So, he has four children, and they are in school, especially the grown-up ones. His second child will be in SS1, while the other two children that he had with his current wife (Happiness) are very young. The wife (Happiness) is a trader; she sells food – roasted chicken and roasted goat meat in Abuja. That is what she does for now. I am also planning to get a better business for her so that she will be able to take care of the children and so that I will also get some relief from my side. My late brother was the fifth child of my parents.
You mentioned earlier that you are also a pastor. Did you have any inkling about the incident?
Sometimes, we neglect divine messages. One time, the general overseer of the church where I am a pastor called me and said she saw a casket in my mother’s house. But she didn’t know which of my siblings would carry the casket, so she prayed and told us to bring their names over which we did. I was the only one who took it seriously, while others did not.
How has your family been coping with the loss?
It is a very devastating situation, and we are unhappy as a family. We’ve shared so many memories with him. He was a good guy, very caring, and when one asked him for financial assistance, even if he didn’t have it, he gave the person hope and helped them out. He was a kind and courageous person. He was a cheerful giver no matter the situation, and he touched lives. He had big dreams and he had been investing in other businesses for the betterment of his future.
It appears he was a strong contributor to the sustenance of your family. What impact has his death had in that regard?
It has affected the family physically, morally, financially, and spiritually. In my family, our father died in 2008, and our mother is alive. She was the one everyone was bothered about how she would take the news of the demise of her son. But since my mother always kicked against us hiding things from her, the very day my brother died, I broke the news to her at about 10:30pm, through one of my brothers-in-law. As soon as the news got to my mother, she broke down in tears. It has not been easy for my mother, despite consoling her with the word of God, because she used to receive gifts and care from her son. Now, she lost him untimely. It’s a bitter pill to swallow. I just pray she doesn’t lose her life as well. But we have been using every diplomatic way to distract her from her grief.
Considering that you mentioned that your GO revealed a vision to you before your brother died. Are there lessons you think people can learn from this experience?
Yes, a lot of lessons, and yes it was a shock but I was able to hold myself, from the beginning when I saw him in the situation he was in the hospital until he gave up. Secondly, some of his friends who came to show concern while he was in the hospital bed gave him money for food and provisions and I think that was because of the type of person he was too. It pays to be good. Honestly, from the beginning, there was no support, but now support from his friends and association group have been coming up saying it was time to pay him back, and they’ve been supportive with the little they have, in terms of finances and condolence visits. My brother will be remembered by others because he was a cheerful giver and was not sentimental. I want people with similar losses to understand that when it comes to grief and mourning, you will be confused, and as such, no matter the religion you profess, use the word of God to console yourself. What is important is to serve God, because the Bible tells us that the purpose of creating us is to serve God.
Has your late brother been buried?
Yes, he was buried on September 16 (yesterday)in his residence in Akaraka, Abuja.
What will you say was responsible for your brother’s death?
The negligence of the hospital might have contributed to his death. Sometimes the attitude of the staff in the hospital is not supposed to be so, someone will come in a critical situation, and they will refuse to answer when a patient needs them the most. The financial aspect is also a contribution; the economic situation is not friendly and in situations like this, most especially when it comes to health, there should be a proper provision from the government. The attitude of hospitals abandoning patients because their relatives are nowhere to be found is uncalled for. To cap it all, I won’t say my brother died as a result of the hospital’s negligence or spiritual disobedience. I will say probably, it was his time. Life on earth is like a market, when people come to the market, they buy whatever they want to buy and leave. We were told at the hospital that the accident affected his spinal cord. So, the possibility of him surviving was small. It is what God designed to come to pass that will come to pass.