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Oklahoma Officials Release 911 Call Recordings from Deadly Oklahoma Drilling Rig Explosion


As the investigation into last month’s deadly drilling rig explosion in Oklahoma continues, recently-released 911 call recordings are shedding light on the chaos that engulfed the Pittsburg County well-pad in the aftermath of the disaster.

5 Workers Tragically Killed in Oklahoma Rig Explosion

The January 22nd explosion at a drilling site operated by Oklahoma City-based Red Mountain Operating tragically killed five men:

  • Matt Smith, 29, of McAlester, Oklahoma
  • Parker Waldridge, 60, of Crescent, Oklahoma
  • Roger Cunningham, 55, of Seminole, Oklahoma
  • Josh Ray, 35 of Fort Worth, Texas
  • Cody Risk, 26, of Wellington, Colorado

All were reported missing shortly after the blast. The massive fire ignited by the explosion prevented responders from recovering their bodies until the following afternoon.

Ray, Risk and Smith were employed by Houston, Texas-based Patterson-UTI Energy, the rig’s owner. Waldridge and Cunningham worked for other contractors.

Horror, Desperation Evident in 911 Recordings

The Pittsburg County 911 Center began logging calls from workers and witnesses shortly before 9:00 a.m. Recordings of those calls chillingly highlight the terror that followed the explosion:

Caller: “There’s a lot of black smoke”

Dispatch: “ok”

Caller: “and it’s really getting bad.”

Dispatch: “Alright Sir, is there any kind of chemicals or anything in the air? Other than…”

Caller: “It’s … natural gas”

Dispatch: “Ok, and is it…”

Caller: “Oil-based mud, it’s on fire. The whole rig is on fire.”

Dispatch: “Ok, we’ve got them headed your way.”

Equipment Failure Cited in Oklahoma Drilling Rig Explosion

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have launched full investigations into last month’s explosion, which stands as the nation’s deadliest drilling disaster since 11 workers were killed aboard the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig in April 2010.

A preliminary report released last month by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission indicated that an uncontrolled release of natural gas ignited a fire at the rig. Employees were unable to activate the well’s blowout preventer because of an equipment failure.

Patterson-UTI Has History of Fatal Accidents

The Oklahoma explosion has brought scrutiny to Patterson-UTI and the company’s recent history of fatal accidents.

According to Reuters, 13 workers – including the 5 killed last month – have died at Patterson-UTI’s drilling sites in just the past decade. Only one other company in the industry recorded more fatalities during that time period.

A U.S. Senate investigation completed in 2008 found that 20 Patterson-UTI employees died on the job between 2002 and 2007. No other oil and gas company had more than five fatal accidents during those years.

The final report from the Senate investigation described Patterson-UTI as one of the nation’s worst violators of workplace safety laws.

According to the Associated Press, OSHA has fined the company $367,000 for more than 140 safety violations, many of them serious, in just the past decade.

Were You or Someone You Love Injured or Tragically Killed in an Oilfield Accident or Explosion? Call 1-888-603-3636 or Click Here for a Free Consultation with Our Undefeated Oilfield Explosion Lawyers.

Our Undefeated Oilfield Explosion Lawyers continue to investigate the tragedy in Oklahoma and will post additional updates as new information is made available.

With more than $1 Billion recovered for our clients—including hundreds of people seriously injured or tragically killed in connection with explosions and other accidents at drilling rigs, refineries and pipelines throughout the United States —our attorneys have the resources and knowledge needed to ensure that our clients and their families receive full compensation for all of their injuries and losses, so that they can begin rebuilding their lives.

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