The law firm of Gordon, Elias & Seely, L.L.P. represented a number of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion survivors including a confidential settlement for Tracy Kleppinger, the widow of Karl Kleppinger Jr., a Transocean crew member who died on the Deepwater Horizon, and Kleppinger’s son, Aaron. “For the Kleppinger claim, Transocean really stepped up to the plate,” Gordon acknowledges.
A horrifying explosion on the Transocean semi-submersible offshore drilling rig, Deepwater Horizon, occurred on April 20, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico. Several years later families and Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion survivors, as well as business along the Gulf of Mexico are still struggling dealing with its aftermath.
Built by Hyundai Heavy Industries Shipyard in South Korea in 2001, the Deepwater Horizon was designed for operations in water depths of up to 8,000 feet with a maximum drill depth of 30,000 feet. Although it was able to accommodate up to 130 people, at the time of the massive fire and explosion there was a crew of 126 people aboard.
Owned by Transocean Ltd, the Deepwater Horizon was under lease to British Petroleum (BP) through September 2013. At the time of the fire, the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig was on BP's Mississippi Canyon Block 252, in the U.S. sector of the Gulf of Mexico.
Explosion and Fire : Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig Explosion Survivors
Located appropriately 41 miles south of the Louisiana coast, the fatal fire reportedly started at about 10:00 p.m. CST. After the terrifying fiery explosion and ensuing anarchy as workers scrambled to escape, only 115 people were recovered out of the crew of 126. Tragically eleven people were missing.
Of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion survivors, seventy-nine of the 126 workers were Transocean employees, six were from British Petroleum and forty-one were independently contracted. Fortunately, all 6 BP employees were safe according to Darren Beaudo , a British Petroleum spokesperson. Seventeen workers out of the 115 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion survivors required medical treatment. They were transported to shore on a workboat and then taken to nearby hospitals. Seven maritime workers were critically injured. Of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion survivors, six were transported to University of South Alabama Medical Center, four were taken to West Jefferson Medical Center in New Orleans, and two were airlifted to a trauma center in Mobile, Alabama. Except for the critically wounded, most of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion survivors were released after treatment.
With all the confusion surrounding the explosion and subsequent, frantic rescue, initial reports stated that between 12 to 15 crew were missing. However by April 22, two days after the Transocean disaster, officials stated that the number of Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion survivors who were still missing was 11, nine crew members on the platform floor and two engineers. There was speculation that the missing had most likely been near the blast area and not been able to escape. According to a Transocean Ltd spokesperson, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig was drilling an exploratory well, but had not begun production at the time of the explosion.
The incident was described by Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion survivors as a sudden loud explosion. After the Deepwater Horizon rig alarm went off, maritime workers had less than five minutes to escape the burning inferno.
Read a riveting account of the events from a NY Times article
Transocean Oil Rig Explosion : The Tragic Aftermath
NY Times : Deepwater Horizon's Final Hours
Most of Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion survivors escaped in lifeboats. BP had hired a supply boat, which eventually was able to pick up the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion survivors. After the harrowing incident, the surviving crew who were not critically wounded were brought to Port Fourchon, Louisiana. There they were given a through a medical check-up, but were not reunited with their anxious families. For a number of hours.
In an article by Shapiro, Joseph (2010-05-06) for National Public Radio, he states “lawyers for some survivors of the blast claim that their clients were kept in boats and on another rig for 15 hours or more before being brought to shore.” In addition, some Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion survivors “say they were coerced and that the forms ( they were made to sign) are being used against them as they file lawsuits seeking compensation for psychiatric problems and other injuries from the blast.”
Rescue Operations by the U.S. Coast Guard for Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig Explosion Survivors
The the U.S. Coast Guard launched a massive rescue operation for Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion survivors. With four helicopters, 4 Coast Guard boats and 1 plane two Coast Guard cutters continued to search throughout the first night. It was a gallant effort considering that the area of the search was about the "size of the state of Delaware." Since the beginning of the initial rescue operations the Coast Guard has carried out 17 separate air and sea search missions covering nearly 1,940 square miles. None of the 11 missing crew were found and remain missing to this date.
The men who died were: Jason C. Anderson, 35, Aaron Dale Burkeen, 37, Donald Clark, 49, Stephen Ray Curtis, 39, Roy Wyatt Kemp, 27, Karl D. Kleppinger Jr., 38, Gordon L. Jones, Keith Blair Manuel, 56, Dewey A. Revette, 48, Shane M. Roshto, 22, and Adam Weise, 24.
On April 22, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon sank to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.
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