Deepwater Horizon Victim - Jason Anderson

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Jason Anderson was the most senior of the eleven men who died in the Deepwater Horizon explosion. 

Thirty-five years old, he was hours away from leaving the rig for a new assignment.  With his wife, Shelly, he had a son and a daughter.

Highly respected by his crewmates, Jason did his best to cope with a disastrous situation after gas had escaped from the wellhead, nearly 5,000 feet below the platform.  Working on the rig floor, Jason and two others tried to stop the flow of gas before Deepwater Horizon exploded. 

We know about some of the events which occurred, as a growing disaster developed, because witnesses who were there testified about what they saw and did. They also testified about Jason’s extraordinary efforts.

One of those witnesses is Donald Vidrine (a BP employee who was a Well Site Leader aboard Deepwater Horizon). While members of the rig crew were fighting the onslaught of mud and gas, rocketing up from the wellhead, Vidrine got a call from Jason:

BP’s Vidrine had headed back to his office to do paperwork. He had been there about 10 to 15 minutes when the phone rang. It was Anderson, who reported “they were getting mud back and were diverting to the gas buster [also known as the MGS, or mud and gas separator].”

Vidrine grabbed his hard hat and started for the drill floor. By the time he got outside, “[t]here was mud and seawater blowing everywhere, there was a mud film on the deck. I decided not to continue and came back across.” (See the National Commission’s “Report to the President,” at page 24 of the online PDF version.)

Later, Vidrine was indicted on numerous counts of involuntary manslaughter and seaman’s manslaughter after a Grand Jury investigated whether his actions or inactions amounted to chargeable criminal offenses for the deaths of the 11 crewmen. The government later dropped those charges (although Vidrine pled guilty to a misdemeanor violation of the U.S. Clean Water Act).

Jason and three others - Stephen Ray Curtis, Donald Clark and Dewey Revette - are believed to have died on the rig floor.

Bloomberg reports on Jason's final efforts which saved many lives:

In discussions with some of the 115 rig workers who were rescued after the blast, Billy Anderson said he learned that his son’s efforts during the final minutes to control the pressure surge saved scores of lives.

“My boy was cremated,” Billy Anderson said. “But the actions he and those other 10 heroes took are what made it possible for more than 100 other people to escape with their lives.”

Jason Anderson was a toolpusher, an offshore drilling job akin to foreman on a construction site, which gave him responsibility for overseeing the workers involved in the nuts-and-bolts of drilling and finishing wells.

Anderson had worked aboard the Deepwater Horizon since it was launched from a South Korean shipyard in 2001, his father said. Once the vessel arrived in the Gulf of Mexico, he worked alongside exploration specialists from BP, which had the rig under lease for all of its existence. Prior to that, he was assigned to the Cajun Express, another of Geneva-based Transocean’s most sophisticated rigs.

Father of Two

Shortly before last month’s disaster, Anderson had been promoted to senior toolpusher and was scheduled to transfer to his new post aboard another rig, the Discoverer Spirit, by helicopter at 7 a.m. on April 21. The Deepwater Horizon exploded nine hours before his flight was due to lift off.

Anderson, a father of two and a former high school football middle linebacker, started working aboard offshore rigs in 1995, scraping paint from below the water line, the lowest-ranking job on a rig.

His father thought the grueling labor would convince his son to study harder after two lackluster years of junior college. Instead, Jason Anderson decided he enjoyed being offshore and began working his way up to jobs of increasing responsibility, his father said.

“He loved his work and thought of his crewmates as family,” said Billy Anderson. “He was the kind of son a man wants and loves and hopes his son will be."

As investigators tried to piece together events before (and during) the disaster, two of the Deepwater Horizon widows testified on the 7th of June, 2010. 

Held by the House Energy subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, in Chalmette St. Bernard Parish (Louisiana), the hearings included Natalie Roshto (wife of Shane Roshto) and Courtney Kemp (wife of Roy Wyatt Kemp).

The widows talked about their husbands' concerns during the weeks leading up to the explosion.  According to Mrs. Kemp:

This well was different in the fact that they were having so many problems, and so many things were happening, and it was just kind of out of hand.  (Reported by the New Orleans Times-Picayune, June 7, 2010.)

On the day that Deepwater Horizon exploded, the "Death on the High Seas Act" - a ninety-year-old federal law - governed the amount of financial compensation which families of deceased oil-rig workers can receive. 

The law restricts such amounts, for the families of the Deepwater Eleven, to only financial damages (such as wages) and precludes any recovery for loss of companionship and other forms of "non-pecuniary" losses.

See, also, these pictures and brief bios of the other crew members who died in the explosion:

Aaron Dale Burkeen - Casualties at Deepwater Horizon

Donald Clark - Casualties at Deepwater Horizon

Stephen Curtis - Casualties at Deepwater Horizon

Gordon Jones - Casualties at Deepwater Horizon

Roy Wyatt Kemp - Casualties at Deepwater Horizon

Karl Kleppinger - Casualties at Deepwater Horizon

Keith Blair Manuel - Casualties at Deepwater Horizon

Dewey Revette - Casualties at Deepwater Horizon

Shane Roshto - Casualties at Deepwater Horizon 

Adam Weise - Casualties at Deepwater Horizon

Media Credits

Quoted passages from Bloomberg.

Image online, courtesy Transocean's condolences web site.


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"Deepwater Horizon Victim - Jason Anderson" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Jun 02, 2020.
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