Medical examiner: Rig explosion victims died of burns, soot inhalation

Photo providedMatthew Smith was one of five men killed Jan. 22 in the Patterson 219 rig explosion in Quinton. The Oklahoma State Medical Examiner’s Office released more information Tuesday in autopsy reports for the five men.

The Oklahoma State Medical Examiner’s Office released more information Tuesday in autopsy reports for the five men who died in the Patterson 219 rig explosion in January.

According to the reports signed by State Medical Examiner Ross Miller, the remains of the five men were each “scientifically identified through dental radiograph comparison” and “there are extensive charring and thermal burn injuries” on 100 percent of each of the remains.

Miller wrote in the reports that the five men died “as a result of thermal burn injuries with smoke and soot inhalation” and said the deaths were the result of an accident.

The reports state the remains were found on the site near State Highway 31 and Bascom Road in Quinton around 12:15 p.m. on Jan. 23, and the State Medical Examiner viewed the remains on Jan. 24.

The explosion occurred Jan. 22 at the Patterson 219 rig in Quinton and killed five workers — Matt Smith, 29, of McAlester, Oklahoma; Josh Ray, 35, of Fort Worth, Texas; Cody Risk, 26, of Wellington, Colorado; Parker Waldridge, 60, of Crescent, Oklahoma; and Roger Cunningham, 55, of Seminole, Oklahoma.

Attorneys filed a lawsuit March 2 in Pittsburg County District Court alleging negligence and reckless conduct resulted in the wrongful death of Waldridge. A lawsuit was filed March 9 on behalf of Cunningham’s widow, and another was filed on March 14 on behalf of Smith’s widow. Attorneys also filed lawsuits this month on behalf of Ray’s widow and Risk’s estate, alleging negligence and more against the companies involved in the explosion.

Red Mountain Operating LLC, Red Mountain Energy LLC, Crescent Consulting LLC, National Oilwell Varco LP, Jim Brody Blagg, Patterson-UTI Drilling Co. LLC and Patterson-UTI Energy Inc. are named as the defendants in the lawsuit filed on behalf of Ray. The same defendants were listed in the lawsuit filed on behalf of Charles Levi Brite — the conservator of Cody Risk’s estate. Attorneys also claimed the same allegations against the parties involved.

In the lawsuits filed on behalf of Ray and Risk, attorneys claim that Red Mountain was responsible for all operations and Patterson-UTI was contracted to drill the well. But because Red Mountain contracted the drilling and maintained control over operations, “Red Mountain was solely responsible for and, voluntarily, agreed to assume all liability for the drilling operations” during the incident, according to the lawsuit.

Attorneys allege that the Red Mountain supervisors on site at the time “were holding expired Well Control Certificates” and the company failed to inspect and maintain safe conditions, in addition to a failure to properly train employees.

Attorneys allege David Silcott, Andy Frey and Jim Brody Blagg were acting on behalf of Crescent Consulting during the events leading to the explosion.

The lawsuits allege gross negligence by Crescent Consulting as a result of omission and commission by company men, in addition to negligence by Jim Brody Blagg.

National Oilwell Varco supplied inadequate drilling fluids and technicians for the site, and the company was negligent in its omission and commission, the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuits allege gross negligence against Patterson-UTI, which has a history of safety violations.

Contact Adrian O’Hanlon III at aohanlon@mcalesternews.com.