LAFAYETTE — The wife of a man killed in a Nov. 20 explosion on a Fieldwood Energy platform filed a wrongful death lawsuit Wednesday that claims the victim and his crew were told the piece of equipment that exploded was safe to work on.
Jerrel “Bubba” Hancock, 24, was a supervisor on a cleaning crew for Turnkey Cleaning Services when a heater treater they were working on blew up, killing Hancock and injuring three others. The injured employees were treated and released from medical facilities in the days after the explosion.
Turnkey Cleaning Services is a contractor that was working for Fieldwood in West Delta block 105, south of New Orleans and about 12 miles offshore.
Hancock and other Turnkey Cleaning Services employees were cleaning a heater treater, a piece of equipment that separates water and other materials from oil, when it exploded.
Federal investigators with the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement have not yet issued a report.
The lawsuit, filed by Kayler Hancock, also names Island Operators as a defendant.
“The Turnkey cleaning crew … were advised by defendants that Echo Platform’s heater treater had been properly cleared of solids, liquids, gases, de-pressurized and de-energized, and that it was safe for entry and washing,” the lawsuit alleges.
The suit alleges Hancock and his crew were told the heater treater was safe to enter. “Upon doing so, the heater treater exploded,” the suit says.
Kayler Hancock alleges Fieldwood Energy and Island Operators were grossly negligent and reckless, and Hancock is seeking an unspecified amount of money for her and the couple’s two children.
Fieldwood Energy risk manager Mark Mozell said Wednesday the company had not yet seen the lawsuit, and that it does not comment in detail on matters that are in litigation.
“At Fieldwood Energy, our top priority is the safety of our employees and contractors. At this time we have no further details to report regarding the incident at West Delta 105 ‘E’,” Mozell said in an email. “The entire Fieldwood Energy team extends our deepest sympathies to the Turnkey Cleaning Services employees and their families who were impacted by this tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with them all during this very difficult time.”
Mozell said the investigation by federal agencies and the companies involved is in the early stages.
“We continue to work closely with BSEE, in coordination with the Coast Guard, and Turnkey Cleaning Services to investigate the cause of the incident,” Mozell said. “We will provide additional updates at the appropriate time when details become available.”