After a five-day search, a helicopter crew scanning the waters and shorelines of Lake Pontchartrain on Friday afternoon located the body of 44-year-old Timothy Morrison, the Texas man missing since the oil and gas platform he was working on exploded and caught fire, sending seven men to the hospital.
Crews have been looking for Morrison ever since Sunday night's accident on the Clovelly Oil Co. platform, situated 1½ miles offshore from the Kenner boat launch, though prospects of finding him alive dimmed as the search wore on.
Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joseph Lopinto told reporters Friday afternoon that Morrison's body was found just after 1 p.m. in a marshy area near the shore, about three miles into St. Charles Parish. The platform itself is just inside the parish line in Jefferson Parish waters.
Lopinto, who had been in touch with Morrison's family several times during the week, said he called them shortly after the body was found. Morrison's family told a Texas newspaper Tuesday that they would hold a memorial service there Sunday.
Lopinto said the spot where Morrison's body was found was well within the area searched every day by helicopter. He said the body likely had been underwater until Friday. High winds earlier in the week had kicked up sediment from the bottom, making it hard to see objects in the murky water.
Clovelly issued a statement Friday afternoon. "There are no words to adequately express the grief that all of us at Clovelly feel," it said. "We extend our deepest condolences to the Morrison family."
The company thanked the Sheriff's Office and other agencies for aiding in the search.
Lopinto said the cause of the explosion is still under investigation by the Sheriff's Office and federal agencies.
A crew boarded the rig earlier this week but was unable to conduct a full search because of structural damage in various areas.
The explosion and resulting fire occurred during a routine cleaning of oil and gas lines leading to the storage platform.
The explosion sent seven workers from Clovelly and at least one subcontractor to local hospitals. Two of them — Alvin Kimbrel of Belle Chasse and Lawrence Dufrene of Marrero — remain at a burn unit at Baton Rouge General Medical Center in good and serious condition, respectively.