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Oklahoma Rig Explosion Victims Died of Burns, Smoke Inhalation


Burns and smoke inhalation have been blamed for the deaths of five workers tragically killed when a massive explosion and fire destroyed a natural gas drilling rig earlier this year near Quinton, Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma State Medical Examiner’s Office has ruled the deaths accidental.

Deceased Workers’ Remains Recovered More than 24 Hours After Explosion

The five men were reported missing in the immediate aftermath of the January 22nd blast.

  • 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 rig fire prevented crews from recovering their bodies until the following afternoon. All five were discovered in an an area of the rig known as the “doghouse,” close to where the explosion occurred.

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

17 other workers were able to escape the burning rig either unhurt or with only minor injuries, including a man who was airlifted to a Tulsa hospital. He was later released.

Red Mountain Energy had no employees on site at the time.

Rig Explosion Rendered Blowout Preventer Inoperable

A preliminary report issued by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission attributed the disaster to the uncontrolled release of natural gas and the failure of the rig’s blowout preventer.

Workers were in the process of completing the well and it had not yet begun producing natural gas.

The explosion ignited several oil tanks located near the derrick, while the force of the blast rendered the rig’s blowout preventer inoperable.

Oklahoma Rig Explosion Renewed Concerns Over Patterson-UTI’s Safety Record

January’s tragedy renewed concerns over Patterson-UTI’s spotty safety record.

A review of U.S. Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) records conducted by Reuters found that 13 workers – including the five killed in January- have died at the company’s drilling sites in the past decade alone.

At least 20 Patterson-UTI employees died on the job between 2002 and 2007, far surpassing any other oil company during that period.

Have Questions About Your Legal Rights After a Drilling Rig 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 fatal explosion and fire in Quinton, Oklahoma and will post additional updates if more information becomes available.

Having won more than $1 Billion for our clients—including hundreds of workers throughout the United States who were seriously injured or tragically killed in connection with explosions at oil fields, refineries and pipelines — our attorneys have the resources, knowledge and experience to ensure that you and your family are fully compensated for all of your injuries and losses.

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