Two Dead in Oilfield Accident UPDATE
7:40 a.m. update A deadly oilfield accident is under investigation today in Barton County.
Sheriff’s officers as well as Claflin Fire and EMS responded to location 3 miles north, 1 mile east and about another quarter-mile north of Claflin, Kansas on 140 RD. The location was a rural saltwater disposal lease. The call was initially reported as a possible drowning, it was later determined to be an oilfield related accident. When emergency personnel arrived at the scene, it was determined that two individuals had been working on a saltwater disposal system in an underground cellar type structure. The body of one victim was immediately discovered near the steps in the flooded room.
It was determined by EMS personnel there was no chance of resuscitation. This victim was identified as Kebby R. Myers of age 30, Claflin, Kansas. The second victim was identified as Curtis L. Hoffman, age 50 of Great Bend. The accident scene was discovered by Myers’ wife, April.
Emergency personnel were unable to enter the structure due to high levels of hydrogen sulfide gas inside. Hydrogen sulfide is a byproduct from the production of oil and natural gas. It causes respiratory paralysis and is highly toxic.
Investigation indicates Hoffman had been working on a valve in the building and called Myers to bring him some parts. It appears Hoffman was overcome by the hydrogen sulfide gas and later when Myers arrived, he too was overcome. The leaking valve Hoffman had been working on then caused the cellar to flood. When the two did not arrive home as expected, family members began looking for them. It was at this point both of their vehicles were discovered outside of the disposal well.
Because of the extremely dangerous nature of the scene Haz-Mat Inc. was called to bring specialized equipment. Two oilfield tank trucks were also used to remove the water that was flooding into the structure. At about 12:20 AM, Hoffman’s body was recovered. Both were pronounced deceased at the scene by Deputy County Coroner, Doctor Witt.
4:55 a.m. A deadly oilfield accident is under investigation today in Barton County. According to Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir, a father and son-in-law died in an accident about one mile northeast of Claflin on Monday.
Curtis Hoffman, 50, and son-in-law Kebby Myers, 30, were working on a saltwater disposal system, when an underground structure flooded. Both men may have died from a high amount of dangerous hydrogen sulfide gas in the air. The gas was so heavy that a hazardous materials unit was called to the scene.
More details will be released as they become available.