Search effort suspended in Lake Pontchartrain; Texas attorney discusses situation
Seven people were injured and one Houston-area worker remains missing several days after an explosion Oct. 15 on an oil platform caught fire in Lake Pontchartrain, a saltwater estuary near New Orleans in Louisiana.
Timothy Morrison, 44, of Katy, Texas remained missing as of Tuesday, Oct. 17, according to The Washington Post. The U.S. Coast Guard suspended search efforts for Morrison late on Oct. 16, according to The Washington Post.
The other seven people injured in the explosion were taken to either University Medical Center in New Orleans or East Jefferson General Hospital in New Orleans, according to, The New Orleans Advocate. Three of the injured workers remained hospitalized, where some of them were listed in critical condition, according to Reuters. The other four injured workers were released from the hospital.
On-Going Accident Investigation
The explosion occurred at around 7:18 p.m. on Oct. 15 on the oil platform, which served as a collection point for several gas and oil wells. Witnesses immediately notified police in Jefferson Parish and reported feeling an explosion and seeing "tremendous flames" from the oil platform, according to The New Orleans Advocate.
The cause of the explosion remains under investigation. However, officials noted that "cleaning chemicals ignited on the surface of the oil rig platform," according to The Washington Post. The article added that the owner of the platform, Clovelly Oil Company, Inc., had hired a Houston subcontractor to clean the platform's pipes.
Morrison was one of five contract workers who were working on the Clovelly Oil Company platform or an adjacent barge at the time of the Oct. 15 explosion, according to KHOU News. The other three workers injured in the accident work for Clovelly Oil Company, Inc.
In a statement released Oct. 16 by Morrison's family to KHOU News, Morrison's family wrote, "We remain hopeful that their search efforts will result in the rescue of our beloved father, husband, brother, and friend. We are very grateful for the efforts of law enforcement and for your well wishes and prayers. We request privacy during this difficult time."
Why Accidents Happen
Serious or fatal injures caused by oil or gas accidents occur for many different reasons. Some of the most common causes of oil or gas well accidents include:
- Poorly maintained oil or gas wells
- Defective equipment
- Poorly maintained wells
- Inexperienced workers
- Reckless or negligent behavior
"Investigators are still trying to piece together exactly what happened at Lake Pontchartrain," attorney Sean Tracey of Tracey & Fox said. "These investigations are extremely important since the more officials know about exactly what happened, the more that can be done to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future."
Sean Tracey is a managing partner at Tracey & Fox, a Texas-based law firm that handles cases involving serious injuries, including oil and gas well accidents, motor vehicle accidents and other personal injury accidents.