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Sinking Offshore Platforms Cause Worker Deaths

In December, three workers went missing at sea when an oil company’s offshore platform sank. This tragic incident was not the first time a platform has sunk. In 1991, the Sleipner A offshore platform became known for a catastrophic failure that occurred as a result of a design flaw. The hull sank at a rate of 1 meter per minute and the buoyancy chambers exploded as it went below the water in the 210-meter fjord. The rubble from the implosion struck the floor of the fjord and created a Richter magnitude scale 3 earthquake.

While the Sleipner A disaster was unique and grabbed headlines because it caused the earthquake, the fact is that sinking of offshore oil platforms are far too common and often not widely publicized. When a platform does sink, those aboard are always in grave danger. An experienced offshore accident lawyer knows it is important to understand why and how sinking occurs and to do everything possible to protect the workers who do dangerous jobs aboard offshore oil rigs.

Sinking Offshore Platforms

Australia Network News reported on the sinking of an offshore platform that occurred in December. The platform belonged to Aramco, a Saudi oil company, and was being used to perform maintenance work on an oil well located in the world’s largest offshore oil field, Safaniya, which is located 265 kilometres north of Dhahran.

There were 27 crew members aboard the platform, and 24 of the crew members were saved, although Aramco did indicate that some workers had suffered injuries. Three of the workers, however, went missing when the platform sank and were subsequently found dead at sea.

After the tragedy, Aramco reported that it had dealt promptly with the incident by seeking support from medical evacuation teams; company helicopters; special diving teams and boats. Unfortunately, the efforts were not enough to save the lives of the three workers.  An investigation has been launched to try to determine the reason the platform sank, but operations continue and have not been halted by the disaster.

Investigation into the cause of the incident is necessary to prevent future incidents and because there are a lot of different reasons why platforms sink.  For example, in an April 2011 accident, an offshore platform housing 713 workers and containing 2,075 barrels of diesel as well as 82 barrels of kerosene started sinking into the Gulf of Mexico. The sinking in this case was prompted by a failure of the water pumps. Bilge pumps were not sufficient to counteract water pouring onto the deck, and the platform began to flood after the water pump broke.

Attempts were made to stabilize the platform, but they were unsuccessful and the platform shifted and partly sank. The company, Mexican state-owned Pemex, was left to try to find solutions to recover the sunken platform. Learning why the incident happened and taking steps to prevent sinking in the future could help other company’s to avoid the loss of expensive equipment and could help to prevent the deaths of more oil workers.

Contact the Law Offices of William Gee III today at 1-800-488-5227 to speak to a Louisiana offshore accident lawyer.

Oil Rigs at Risk During Tow

Dec 2013
By: William Gee Law

Working on an offshore oil rig brings with it many challenges, including the risk of explosions that could cause serious injury. However, workers are also at risk of an injury even before the rig is placed and operating. A recent incident in which an offshore rig broke free from its tow demonstrates yet another danger that is faced by those who work on offshore drilling operations.

An experienced offshore drilling rig accident lawyer knows that any time an offshore worker is injured, whether this injury occurs during the tow or at another occasion, the worker is entitled to compensation for damage and loss. Those responsible for the maintenance and operation of rigs need to ensure that the tow line is safe, secure and able to safely haul the rig in order to reduce the danger to workers and protect itself from potential legal liability for losses.

Oil Rig Breaks Free During Tow

One recent incident reported by CBC illustrates clearly the importance of taking all safety precautions when an oil rig is being owed.  The incident occurred when an oil rig that had been working in an area south of St. John called the White Rose oilfield  had to be transported to Mississippi. The rig was being towed by the Atlantic Hawk.

Unfortunately, amidst an Atlantic storm, the oil rig broke free of its tow. The break happened south of Newfoundland and occurred at a time when the waves were reaching five-meters.

After the rig broke free, it was stranded for a total of two days because of the storm. There were 99 workers who were aboard the rig and stuck offshore until the rig was able to be reattached to the Atlantic Hawk with a new tow-line and ultimately towed to its destination.

While no workers were reportedly injured in the incident, it was still a very dangerous situation for those who were left to ride out the storm on the detached rig. Fortunately, the rig was able to maintain its position even amidst the high waves because it could use its own thrusters. It was the knowledge and hard work of the crew to keep the rig in place that prevented disaster from occurring and helped everyone to stay safe.

The Transportation Safety Board has indicated that it does not plan to investigate the incident, and the rig was back in route to Mississippi after the storm cleared and the weather calmed.  Once it arrives at its destination, it will undergo a scheduled refurbishment before the ship is returned to the area in Newfoundland where the oil field is located.

If oil rig companies are proactive in complying with regulations and making sure all parts of the rigs are safe, incidents of rigs breaking free from tow lines should be reduced or eliminated.

If you or a loved one suffered a Gulf Coast maritime or offshore injury, contact the Law Offices of William Gee III at 1-800-488-5227 to speak to a Louisiana offshore accident lawyer.

“Nuisance” Fines Allow Lax Safety to Persist Offshore

Last year, three workers died in a rig explosion while working on an offshore platform for Black Elk. Forbes reports that this Houston-based offshore oil producer, along with three of the producer’s contractors, received 41 citations for safety violations that existed prior to the deadly explosion. Black Elk now faces civil penalties as a result of the safety lapses, but the company has 60 days to appeal the citations and fines and penalties are likely to be negotiated downward.

Any offshore accident lawyer knows that the penalties for these citations that are issued for “incidents of non-compliance” are rarely enough to make a dent in the profits of the offshore drillers, nor are they enough to force the drilling companies to take safety more seriously in the future. As Forbes describes them, these civil penalties are nothing more than “nuisance fines” that “pile up like traffic tickets on the windshield of an abandoned car while lives continue to be lost.”

Fines Aren’t Sufficient to Make Workers Safe

The 41 citations issued to Black Elk following the explosion were not the first that the company had received. In the two years prior to the accident, the company had been cited 315 times for risky procedures and violations of safety rules. In fact, just one month before the explosion, another accident had occurred necessitating the hospitalization of six workers. The investigation of this prior accident had led regulations to state that the company had shown disregard for the safety of its workers.

Despite the clear problems, nothing was done to force Black Elk to actually improve offshore conditions. While fines can differ depending upon the extent of the violation, the average fine levied by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement is just $62,000 for offshore safety violations. Black Elk has faced higher fines than average, including a fine of $307,000 after a gas leak was left unfixed on one platform for more than 100 days. Black Elk also had three additional civil penalties this past year totaling more than $250,000. Forbes describes the size of these fines as “minimal.”

There are many reasons that the fines are too small and that safety is not improved. Some of the key problems include the fact that:

  • Recidivism is not generally taken into account by federal regulators when identifying safety problems or issuing safety violations. The only real consequence of not having a “safety culture” is being told to become safer and paying some small fines.
  • Operators can deny responsibility, complain about overly burdensome regulations and blame contractors for problems that develop or safety lapses.
  • A company’s safety track record isn’t considered by regulators when deciding whether to allow drilling companies continued access to drill in the Gulf.

The outcome, unfortunately, is that employees continue to get hurt or killed in offshore accidents because the regulations don’t do enough to force drilling companies to make worker safety a priority.

If you or a loved one suffered a Gulf Coast maritime or offshore injury, contact the Law Offices of William Gee III at 1-800-488-5227 to speak to a Louisiana offshore accident lawyer.

25 Years After Piper Alpha Investigator Gives Insights into Lessons Learned

Oct 2013
By: William Gee Law

The Piper Alpha explosion on an offshore oil production platform was one of the most devastating accidents in the oil and gas industry, resulting in the death of 167 men. A UK-government official conducted a 13-month investigation into the 1988 disaster, which prompted 106 recommendations to be made to improve safety. Now, 25 years after Piper Alpha, the investigator has spoken out at the Oil and Gas UK conference to discuss what the industry has learned about safety and where improvements can be made to provide broader protection to offshore workers.

Despite significant safety improvements, any offshore accident lawyer in Louisiana knows that accidents continue to happen and workers continue to get hurt in the dangerous offshore drilling industry.  Learning from past disasters and constantly striving to make offshore platforms safer remains an important goal and the summary of the industry by the investigator gives drilling companies ideas for areas where they can start looking for improvement.

Investigator Summarizes Safety Issues

The Piper Alpha investigator broke his talk down into different categories that affect safety on offshore rigs including the following:

  • Management: Management shortcomings including a lack of clear procedure for shift handover, an inadequate permit-to-work system and insufficient employee training were contributing factors to Piper Alpha. Having safe leadership remains a key factor in preventing accidents as the investigator pointed out “no amount of regulations can make up for deficiencies in the quality of management of safety,” as avoiding the risk of drilling and offshore accidents “depends critically on effective safe leadership at all levels.”
  • Process Safety: Although personal safety is important to minimize the risk of injury for individual workers, process safety is the key to preventing big accidents. There should be an overall understanding of the major risks that could cause problems to develop and there must be systems to control the risks. The systems should also be checked regularly to make sure there are no breakdowns or deficiencies. A breakdown in process safety was not only the problem in Piper Alpha, but the BP Texas City refinery disaster in 2005 was also caused by “deficiencies at all levels of the corporation” as budget cuts and pressure to produce impaired process safety.
  • Regular auditing: For most of the major accidents in the oil and gas industry, including Piper Alpha, the 2005 Buncefield disaster in UK, and the 2005 Texas City refinery disaster, there were warning signs of problems in advance. When there are signs of equipment not being fit or employees not following safety procedures, feedback needs to be given and followed up on to ensure changes are made.
  • Communication: Communication is essential to ensure safety as different workforces must work together even as many workers are in a demanding and isolated environment offshore. Owners, rig operators, offshore and onshore personnel all need to communicate regularly about safety issues, key decisions on operations, and company policies.

While things have improved in the oil and gas industry thanks to changes made since Piper Alpha, ongoing safety efforts in these key areas remain necessary in order to protect the lives and health of workers.

If you or a loved one suffered a Gulf Coast maritime or offshore injury, contact the Law Offices of William Gee III at 1-800-488-5227 to speak to a Louisiana offshore accident lawyer.

Oil Rig Accident in Western New York Kills 79-Year-Old Man

There are many dangers associated with working on or near oil rigs, including the potential for gas leaks, blow-outs, explosions, fires, chemical exposure and accidents with heavy equipment. One of the most deadly, however, may be a simple risk that is found on many work sites: the danger of falling objects.

An experienced oil rig accident lawyer in Louisiana understands the many risks faced by oil workers, including those shared with the construction industry, like the risk of fall injuries or accidents caused by falling objects.

The Dangers of Falling Objects on Oil Rigs

The danger of falling objects on oil rigs was clearly illustrated recently when a deadly accident in Andover, NY caused the death of a 79-year-old man at a Western New York oil well. The man was supervising a crew servicing a hydraulic well when the pulleys and cables on its mast snapped. The mast fell 40 feet, striking the 79-year-old. The Wall Street Journal reports that he died on the scene.

This was one of many incidents where falling objects put a worker at risk and across all industries in 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there were 233 workplace fatalities caused by workers being hit by falling objects. Falling objects are of particular concern on oil wells as well as on offshore drilling rigs where compliant towers and jack-up drilling rigs are frequently elevated at height.

Schramm’s Drill Rig Safety guide identifies the danger of falling objects as one of its top safety-related issues. Further, Chevron sees falling objects and dropped objects as such a danger that it has published a Dropped Objects Prevention guide. As this guide points out “even a small object falling from a height can cause serious or fatal injuries.”

Preventing Falling Object Injuries

To prevent falling object injuries, Schramm’s recommends:

  • Inspecting fasteners each month and replacing fasteners that are chronically loose with anti-vibration washers.
  • Tightening all overhead equipment to spec.
  • Inspecting all components of rotation drives, including pump drives, winches, fan drives and fan balance.
  • Inspecting all components of feed systems including sprockets, sheaves, chains and cables.
  • Exercising caution when raising the mast.

Chevron also offers suggestions for reducing the danger of dropped objects. These suggestions include:

  • Using secondary securing devices such as a secondary safety wire or safety net to secure components at their height if the primary securing method fails.
  • Creating a dropped objects work group at each site and developing an inspection program to identify and mitigate the potential for dropped objects.
  • Conducting regular hazard hunts to identify potential dangers.
  • Establishing and reviewing procedures for tubular components.

Ultimately, the responsibility of preventing injuries from falling objects lies with the workers on the rig every day as well as with employers in charge of taking steps to ensure proper training and a safe working environment.

If you or a loved one suffered a Gulf Coast maritime or offshore injury, contact the Law Offices of William Gee III at 1-800-488-5227 to speak to a Louisiana offshore accident lawyer.

Halliburton Receives First Citation for Workplace Safety Violation

Working on an offshore oil rig is labor intensive and can be very dangerous. In fact, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported, 120 workers in the oil and gas industry lost their lives due to on-the-job accidents in 2010. While the U.S. Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulate oil companies to try to ensure that workplaces are as safe as the nature of this deadly industry will allow, our Louisiana oil rig injury lawyers know that sometimes employers don’t follow regulations and don’t place a priority on the safety of workers or the public.

One company in particular, Halliburton, has come under fire in the press numerous times for allegedly risky business practices. The company’s ties to former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, concerns about Halliburton’s chemical emissions, claims that Halliburton overcharged the Pentagon, and even allegations of sexual assault by employees of Halliburton subsidiaries have all brought the company negative press.

However, with so much negative coverage of the oil company, it likely will come as a surprise that the company has just recently received its first ever citation from OSHA for workplace safety violations. Tragically, as the Dickinson Press reports, the workplace safety violations that Halliburton committed led to the death of a worker.

Workplace Injury and Oil Companies

Halliburton is one of the world’s largest companies and employs more than 10,000 people across 80 different countries. As a huge and extremely profitable company, Halliburton certainly has the resources to ensure that work sites are safe and that the company doesn’t put its employees or the public at risk.

Unfortunately, a release issued in July by the U.S. Department of Labor detailed “two serious safety violations,” which led to the death of a worker on an oil rig site north of Watford City, North Dakota. OHSA has a specific definition of what constitutes a serious safety violation. A serious safety violation is one that creates a “substantial probability” of death or serious harm as a result of conditions or hazards that the employer “knew or should have known” about.

The incident that prompted Halliburton to be cited for serious safety violations occurred when an employee was working on a hydraulic fracturing job. As he was working, a pipe from a high-pressure line dislodged. The man was hit in the head and killed as a result of the injuries that he sustained.

Following the investigation and the citation, the area director of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was quoted as saying: “The company failed in its responsibility to maintain a work site free from recognized safety hazards, such as struck-by hazards.”

Halliburton has been inspected 43 times throughout the United States since 2008, and yet this was the company’s first violation. Even one violation is too many, however, especially for a company that has been accused of being lax when it comes to public safety in the past. Workers have the right to a safe workplace and companies like Halliburton should be held responsible when they fail to take precautions to protect the lives and health of their workforce.

If you or a loved one suffered a Gulf Coast maritime or offshore injury, contact the Law Offices of William Gee III at 1-800-488-5227 to speak to a maritime accident attorney.

Two Dead in Gas-Platform Accident Reinforces Concerns about Offshore Oil & Gas Operations

Jun 2013
By: William Gee Law

The safety of offshore oil and gas platforms has been hotly debated since the massive explosion of the Deepwater Horizon in 2010. Now, those who argue that offshore oil and gas drilling is inherently very risky business have yet another accident to add to the evidence. A North Sea gas platform accident occurred this June, leaving two workers dead.

Our Louisiana maritime injury attorneys know that workers on offshore drilling platforms risk their lives every day. And, as the economy continues to recover and exploration and recovery operations expand, those risks are on the rise. However, accepting that accidents are just an inevitable part of the offshore drilling industry is not a proactive approach. Instead, employers need to take active steps to regularly improve safety and protect workers so that the number of accidents is reduced and the fatal incidents hopefully eliminated.

Workers Killed in North Sea Gas Platform Accident Lead to Added Concerns about Offshore Risks

According to the Wall Street Journal, two workers were killed and a third were injured when a high-pressure hose snapped on the L5A offshore drilling platform in the North Sea. The platform was shut down for maintenance at the time and was depressurized, so there was no risk of a gas leak. However, three workers were hit with the high-pressure hose.

The injured worker hit by the hose was taken to the hospital and although he was conscious, the extent of his injuries is not yet known. Thirteen other employees at the facility were not harmed by the incident. Dutch investigators are looking into how the accident happened since the L5A platform was located around 64 miles north of the Dutch City of Den Helder.   The company, GDF Suez, is conducting its own investigation into the accident and has declined to indicate when work will resume on the platform.

The incident was a tragedy since lives were lost. However, the Wall Street Journal indicates that it is capturing attention and making national headlines in part because of an ongoing debate about the safety of offshore drilling rigs.

Earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal published an article detailing the debate surrounding the entire industry of off-shore drilling.  It indicated that opponents of drilling have been using the Deepwater Horizon as a perfect example of why we should stop extracting oil and gas from under the ocean.  The Deepwater incident even led to a moratorium on deep water drilling in the U.S., which has since expired.  Now, those who are against offshore drilling often tend to look upon any accident as a reason to ban drilling.

However, even as environmentalists raise concerns about the risks, offshore drilling is booming in the Gulf of Mexico and other parts of the world due to the discovery of new fields and the continued high price of oil.  This boom is a good thing because it provides jobs, but it is also important to remember that worker safety initiatives need to be at the forefront.

Those who are concerned about the dangers of offshore drilling should not seize upon accidents as an excuse to argue against the industry. There are dangers to offshore drilling like there are in many different fields of work. Rather than condemning the entire industry, it is far better to work and identify new ways to make drilling safer to avoid the risk of spills and to avoid the risk of injuries to workers doing demanding jobs extracting the oil and natural gas we all need.

If you or a loved one suffered a Gulf Coast maritime injury or have lost a relative in an offshore incident, Call the Law Offices of William Gee III to speak to a maritime attorney at 1-800-CALL-GEE (1-800-225-5433) or contact us online today.

Houston Port Expansion Highlights Maritime Injury Risks

May 2013
By: William Gee Law

Businesses with ties to the Houston Ship Channel are reporting a period of rapid growth this year, estimating some $35 billion in capital investment and maintenance over the course of the next three years.

That’s an increase of about $14 billion from reported earlier estimates.

This is great news for the economy and the maritime industry. However, our Louisiana maritime injury attorneys just hope some of those investment funds will be funneled into boosting safety protections for the hundreds of thousands of workers who will be employed as the industry booms. Early reports are that investment in maintenance will be relatively modest, compared to the investment in infrastructure, which has more than doubled over the last year – and is expected to double again by next year.

Investment may actually increase even more, as only 51 of 132 targeted companies responded to the survey, despite the guarantee of anonymity from the Port of Houston Authority. The companies aren’t required to disclose their investment information, but we can expect that even those who did not answer will be investing heavily in coming years.

A major reason for the increase has to do with the boom in natural gas at domestic refineries. Other firms are spending billions of dollars in order to accommodate more use of this fuel. Advancements in a process of extraction called hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking,” has produced an excess of natural gas in recent years.

Ultimately, what all of this means is that there will be an estimated 112,000 new construction jobs in the area, in addition to the numerous maritime industry jobs that the expansion will accommodate. Some companies have come forward publicly to announce intentions to expand capacity by up to 20 percent over the next several years.

This growth is noteworthy because there hasn’t been a similar boom in this industry since at least the mid-1990s. We anticipate that similar growth may be expected at other regions along the Gulf Coast.

One important thing this survey does is provide a stronger argument to Congress for federal funds, as well as a greater share of the tax resources. As it now stands, just to maintain the width and depth of the channel through dredging, businesses along the area have to pay about $85 million for maintenance. However, only about $30 million of that is reimbursed by the federal government.

Maintenance of current facilities will be important to ensuring the safety of those workers.

Some different types of work accidents that preventative maintenance can circumvent include:

  • Crude oil tanker and cargo ship explosions, which are often caused due to faulty systems that were not regularly serviced or properly inspected.
  • Marine crane accidents on ports or ships. The risk is further amplified by the fact that the sea has a tendency to wear equipment much faster. Regular inspections and maintenance are essential.
  • Shipyard injuries and illnesses – often related to construction – are unfortunately commonplace. These might include falls, falling debris, faulty equipment or even the release of poisonous fumes.
  • Barge accidents, which are often caused by faulty towing cables.
  • Cargo hauling accidents. It’s been well-documented that cargo haulers have one of the highest injury rates within the maritime industry.

If you or a loved one suffered a Gulf Coast maritime injury or have lost a relative in an offshore fatality, Call the Law Offices of William Gee III to speak to a maritime accident attorney at 1-800-CALL-GEE (1-800-225-5433) or contact us online today.

More Oil Drilling Leads to Fears of An Accident Occurring

Any time offshore oil drilling occurs, there is always a chance that accidents can occur and that a spill can happen. This is especially true when expanding into new drilling areas where the crews may not be as experienced and where locals may not be well-equipped to address a potential accident that causes an oil spill.

Now, Fox News reports that international oil companies are “lining up” to take advantage of new offshore drilling opportunities in the Caribbean. Our Louisiana maritime injury lawyers know that these oil companies are taking on a major risk and that expanding the drilling into the Caribbean could have devastating effects within the United States.

The Dangers of Expanding Drilling Into New Areas

The waters of the Caribbean are well known for being pristine, and the white sand beaches in the area are a major draw for tourists. The potential damage that could befall these waters and beaches is one concern that is being expressed as international oil companies jump into the efforts to locate offshore deposits. Oil speculators are working the Caribbean from the Bahamas and Cuba stretching all the way to Suriname and Aruba.

The potential risks of offshore drilling are becoming a major issue now as there is a great deal of interest in drilling in these areas; countries hope that they can be part of a “black-gold bonanza.” Drilling for oil could result in a more diversified economy within the Caribbean, and could lessen the demand for imported oil at a time when a barrel of oil has become very expensive.

Unfortunately, drilling isn’t without risk and not everyone is enthusiastic about oil companies heading to the Caribbean. The potential damage that could result from an oil spill in these regions would do more than just harm the waters and beaches of the Caribbean. As Fox News reports, ocean currents would likely result in oil coming to the shores of the U.S. Coast. Such a spill would harm areas that are still trying to recover from the Deepwater Horizon accident that dumped so much oil into our coastal waters.

The concerns about drilling in this area are very high not just because the oil could spread to the United States, but also because in any situation when a new drilling site is opened, there is the potential that mistakes might occur. Further, when a spill happens, it could take time to figure out how to solve the problem in an area where drilling has not routinely occurred in the past.

Local authorities who are considering opening up the waters to drilling are creating a plan to deal with a spill in case it happens. Oil companies who initiate drilling in the area may also use experienced workers from the United States to set up and work on the offshore platforms. Of course, this means that there would need to be a clear plan in place not only to solve the problem of spilling oil if it occurred but also to ensure that workers were kept safe while working on oil platforms in such a remote area of the world.

If you or a loved one suffered a Gulf Coast maritime injury or have lost a relative in an offshore fatality, call the Law Offices of William Gee III to speak to a maritime accident attorney at 1-800-488-5227 or contact us online today.

Transocean Toolpusher Recalls Harrowing Moments Before Oil Spill

Mar 2013
By: William Gee Law

According to the Times-Picayune, the senior tool pusher aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig was recently given a chance to testify at a civil trial where liability was to be determined arising from the massive 2010 disaster. This was not the first time the toolpusher, Randy Ezell, had been asked to offer testimony. Ezell also spoke in May 2010 at a joint hearing conducted by the Minerals Management Service and the Coast Guard.

Our offshore oil injury lawyers are glad that Mr. Ezell was given a chance to tell his story about the frightening moments aboard the rig before the explosion and fire that led to one of the worst environmental disasters in history. Workers are often the last line of defense when a problem develops on offshore rigs and they are often put into dangerous situations in an effort to help stop leaks and curb burgeoning disasters.

Toolpusher Testimony on Events Leading Up to the Oil Spill

According to the testimony presented before the joint committee and in the civil trial, the first sign of potential trouble was seen when a negative pressure test run occurred on April 20 around 4 p.m. Because of the test, Ezell agreed to stay on duty to help the man, Jason Anderson, who had assumed control of drilling operations after the shift change. Anderson was one of the workers who died in the explosion and was described as a top-notch tool person.

Ezell said he had checked on the results of the negative pressure test at the shift change and was told that everything was fine. He went to his bunk with the understanding he would be called if something went wrong. At 9:50 p.m., the phone rang and Ezell was informed that mud was flowing into the crown. He reports being horrified because he knew this meant that hydrocarbons were pushing out of the top of the well.

Ezell quickly put on his coveralls and began looking for his hard hat and boots. When he was still searching for his boots, an explosion occurred. The rig started on fire, the well blew out and Ezell was thrown 20 feet across the room and into a bulkhead.

After collecting himself, Ezell tried to make his way through the pitch dark. He was frightened, trapped in debris and forced to shove his way out. He saw a colleague and a visiting official from Transocean both trapped under piles of debris and he stayed with them until a stretcher arrived to help them evacuate.

Ezell was ultimately one of the last to leave the rig and was rescued by the offshore supply vessel Damon B. Bankston. The vessel with Ezell and the other rescued workers on it stayed at the scene for several hours and Ezell and the others saw the rig burn and watched those left behind perish.

The recounting of events tells a harrowing story about a disaster that is sure to leave lasting emotional harm on all who endured it. The workers who were killed lost their lives and those who survived suffered serious physical or mental injuries that can last a lifetime.

If you or a loved one suffered a maritime injury or lost a relative in an offshore fatality, call the Law Offices of William Gee III to speak to a maritime accident attorney at 1-800-488-5227 or contact us online today.