In Focus

Survivor recalls BP well explosion in Gulf

Monday, April 18, 2011

One year ago this week, the world watched helplessly as the disaster in the Gulf quickly went from very bad to even worse.

Since then, we've covered dozens of issues related to the explosion and spill, but there's one story we haven't hear yet.

And that story is of those who were on the rig that day and survived. While they are all live today, their lives will never be the same.

For Ryan Haire, the unforgettable pictures of the BP rig on fire are an unavoidable reality.

"For some people they say, it's a year now. For me, it still feels like last week," he said. "Day in, day out that's the one thing I think about -- just all the time."

Haire was a cementer for Haliburton. He worked right on the drilling floor of the Deepwater Horizon. He was onboard for days before the blast as the crew was getting troubling readings from a deep well about to explode.

"The problems seemed excessive," he said. "I've heard it referred to as the well from hell."

Haire was in his bedroom when the well blew. He felt a blast, and when he opened his eyes, he was in the kitchen next door to his bedroom.

"I assume I went through that wall," he said.

From there, in the dark and confusion, he made it to a lifeboat and onto a nearby work vessel where he and the other survivors sat for 12 hours, watching the rig burn -- and always coming up 11 short on their muster.

"I think we realized it by the time we got on the boat and we were taking a final muster, and I think everybody was just concerned. 'Where's Dewey, where's Gordon, where's Roy?' Questions -- people we didn't see," he said.

Haire still has back, shoulder and neck pain; it's manageable. Going back to work is not.

"It's one of those things that I guess I'll just forever miss because I am not going out there again," he said.

Haire tried for a week. The anxiety was crippling. Melatonin helps him sleep at night, but makes the dreams seem especially vivid.

"Some days the rig is perfectly fine and I am just working out there with everybody. Other days, I am working and reliving the event. And some days, it's even worse," Haire said.

Haire's been forced in testimony and deposition to relive the incident. He's not certain all the work to get answers to the Deepwater's questions answered all of his questions.

"I hope those men lost their lives for a reason, that the industry is going to be much safer because of it," he said.

And as we come up to the one-year anniversary Wednesday and spend time with tourists and fishermen who lost their summer and maybe more, Haire will remember all of it differently.

"Sorry, choked up a little bit," he told us as he fought back tears.

He's 26, a father of four-year-old twins, and he can't go back to work and can't escape the unforgettable disaster.

"My mind started wandering a little bit. It's been a while since I've actually talked about it," he said. "You know, for me it will always be the disaster that took 11 friends -- not the gulf oil spill. When people say gulf oil spill, that's a different incident."

(Copyright ©2014 KTRK-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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