Debra Oubrey knows what it is like to get that phone call that no one wants: A phone call that informed her of a major plant accident where her husband, Michael, of 37 years worked in Louisiana as a pipeline designer.
She did what any one would have done and called the plant’s emergency line first. Then she turned her efforts toward reaching her husband’s cell phone but got no answer. After two hours of an agonizing wait, he finally was able to reach her.
“He called and said the explosion happened, and as soon as he heard it, he ran out as fast as he could. He dropped his cell phone and just kept running,” she said.
The explosion that rocked the Williams Partners LP’s natural gas liquids plant at 8:37 a.m. in Geismar, Louisiana made Debra Oubrey reflect on just what is important in life. “It makes you appreciate your family and what you have,” said Oubrey. “Just pray for the victims.”
Investigators are still trying to determine what might have caused the accident that left two workers dead and 76 others injured. All of those injured have been treated and released. All 839 employees who were working at the plant at the time of the explosion have now been accounted for.
Eyewitness accounts of the accident describe flames as high as 200 feet shooting into the air and an atmosphere of chaos that unfolded at the plant as workers scrambling over the gates, attempting to escape.
Even after the fire was extinguished, a thick black plume of smoke could easily be seen from a roadblock located several miles away where anxious family members waited for news of their loved ones. Before the fire was put out, flames were visible for hours even above the tree line.
Louisiana’s health department spokesperson, Christina Stephens reported in a news release that 77 people were being treated at area hospitals, with 51 being released by the evening. The hospitals reported that workers from the Williams plant mostly were suffering from burns, cardiac and respiratory issues, and bruises. One person was initially killed in the blast, and another died later in the day as a result of their injuries.
Police have identified the first victim of the blast as 29-year-old Zachary C. Green. The second victim, 27-year-old Scott Thrower of St. Amant, Louisiana, died Friday at Baton Rouge General Hospital.
Pending investigation by State and Federal officials as to the cause of the blast, The FBI released a statement saying that terrorism was not involved. Williams plant officials state that it is uncertain how long the plant will remain closed.
On the job accidents can happen at any time and suffering a serious injury on the job can be an agonizing experience. Medical treatment, loss of income for time off the job, long term care and other expenses can quickly add up. Before you sign anything with your insurance provider or your employer, give our offices a call. We will act as your point of contact to make sure that you are fairly compensated. If you or a loved one have been injured on the job or have suffered a loss due to a workplace injury, our experienced attorneys are here to give you the best advice for your personal situation.