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. He and three others - Stephen Ray Curtis, Donald Clark and Dewey Revette - are believe to have died on the rig floor.
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 try 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) andCourtney 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 in my blog ARCHIVE