Mike Williams had no choice but to jump from the burning oil rig. He describes his ten-stories fall:
I remember closing my eyes and sayin' a prayer, and asking God to tell my wife and my little girl that Daddy did everything he could and if, if I survive this, it's for a reason. I made those three steps, and I pushed off the end of the rig. And I fell for what seemed like forever. A lotta things go through your mind.
Williams had the presence of mind to jump feet first:
I went down way, way below the surface, obviously. And when I popped back up, I felt like, "Okay, I've made it." But I feel this God-awful burning all over me. And I'm thinking, "Am I on fire?" You know, I just don't know. So I start doin' the only thing I know to do, swim. I gotta start swimmin', I gotta get away from this thing. I could tell I was floatin' in oil and grease and, and diesel fuel. I mean, it's just the smell and the feel of it.
Williams saw the water on fire. In his fear, he began to think he might have been better-off staying on the platform:
And I remember lookin' under the rig and seein' the water on fire. And I thought, "What have you done? You were dry, and you weren't covered in oil up there, now you've jumped and you've made this, and you've landed in oil. The fire's gonna come across the water, and you're gonna burn up." And I thought, "You just gotta swim harder."
So I swam, and I kicked and I swam and I kicked and I swam as hard as I could until I remember not feelin' any more pain, and I didn't hear anything. And I thought, "Well, I must have burned up, 'cause I don't feel anything, I don't hear anything, I don't smell anything. I must be dead.'
And I remember a real faint voice of, "Over here, over here." I thought, "What in the world is that?" And the next thing I know, he grabbed my lifejacket and flipped me over into this small open bow boat. I didn't know who he was, I didn't know where he'd come from, I didn't care. I was now out of the water. * *
Eleven other people were not so fortunate. Adding to the anguish of their families is the fact that their bodies have not been recovered.
The Deepwater Horizon Eleven are:
Jason Anderson - age 35
Dale Burkeen - age 37
Donald Clark - age 48
Stephen Curtis - age 40
Gordon Jones - age 28
Roy Wyatt Kemp - age 27
Karl Dale Kleppinger - age 38
Blair Manuel - age 56
Dewey Revette - age 48
Shane Roshto - age 22
Adam Weise - age 24
According to one of the experts, asked to investigate the accident, if Transocean's plan been followed, the explosion may not have occurred:
In finishing the well, the plan was to have a subcontractor, Halliburton, place three concrete plugs, like corks, in the column. The Transocean manager wanted to do this with the column full of heavy drilling fluid - what drillers call "mud" - to keep the pressure down below contained. But the BP manager wanted to begin to remove the "mud" before the last plug was set. That would reduce the pressure controlling the well before the plugs were finished.
Had the "mud" remained in the column, according to this analysis, there wouldn't have been a blowout. Because there was a blowout - however it was caused - eleven people died, others were injured, the rig sank after it exploded and oil - via three original leaks, gushing from the uncapped well - began flowing, unchecked, into the Gulf of Mexico.
** NOTE - Mike Williams, who earned $80,000 a year doing his job for Transocean, filed a lawsuit against Transocean, BP and Halliburton nine days after the explosion. His complaint alleges that all three companies were responsible, in various ways, for the disaster on board Deepwater Horizon. He is seeking $6 million in compensation.