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Investigators Locate Bodies of the 5 Workers Tragically Killed in Oklahoma Drilling Rig Explosion


The remains of five men who died tragically Monday night when a natural gas drilling rig exploded outside of Quinton, Oklahoma have been recovered.

Workers Killed in Rig Explosion Missing Since Monday, January 21

The bodies of those tragically killed in the explosion were discovered on Tuesday January 23 in a building next to the collapsed rig.

“The bodies were located in the area that they were presumed to be working in — what they call the ‘dog house,'” Pittsburg County Sheriff Chris Morris said during yesterday’s news briefing. “It was so hot in that area, that would have been where the fire initially started.”

The five workers were unaccounted for and presumed dead by Monday night.  The deceased have been identified as:

  • 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

The workers’ remains have been transferred to the state medical examiner in Oklahoma City for positive identification.

“Everyone Was Trying to Survive”

The January 22nd explosion was reported shortly before 9:00 a.m. at an oil and gas drilling site operated by Oklahoma City-based Red Mountain Operating.

Around 22 people were working at the site at the time.

The violent blast ignited a fire that quickly consumed the entire well-pad.

“Everyone was trying to survive… There was one guy that was very high (on the rig). They grabbed a hold of a guideline and slid down the guideline which would have been scary in itself, but he survived.” Morris said.

17 workers were able to escape the burning rig unhurt or with minor injuries. One was airlifted to a hospital in Tulsa.

While the fire was extinguished by Monday night, recovery crews had to wait until the site cooled down and was stabilized before they could begin searching for the missing men.

Oklahoma Explosion Deadliest Since Deepwater Horizon Disaster

Monday’s explosion stands as the deadliest drilling disaster in the United States since the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig explosion killed 11 workers in April 2010.

It’s not yet known what caused the tragedy. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has opened a federal investigation into the incident.

Rig Owner Has a Questionable Safety Record

Drilling at the site only began in December. Red Mountain Operating shares management of the well-pad with Clearwater Enterprises, an Oklahoma City-based gas marketing and investment firm.

Patterson-UTI Energy, the owner of the rig, has confirmed that three of its employees were among the dead.

Until recently, the Houston, Texas-based drilling contractor had one of the worst safety records in the industry, recording more work-site fatalities than any other domestic energy company during the 2000’s

According to the Houston Chronicle, a U.S. Senate investigation completed in 2008 found that 12 workers had died at the company’s Texas drilling sites alone from 2003 through 2007.

OSHA records also indicate that three fatalities occurred at Patterson-UTI sites in Texas from 2010 through 2012.

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If you or a loved one were injured or tragically killed in the Oklahoma explosion and would like to learn more about your rights and options, call 1-888-603-3636 or Click Here to send us a confidential email through our “Contact Form.”

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