Police recover remains at well site

February 19, 2014
From left, Adam Nightingale, vice president of human resources for Cameron International; Stefan Radwanski, vice president and general manager of the surface division for Cameron International; state Trooper Stefani Plume; and Nigel Hearne, vice president of Chevron’s Appalachia Business Unit address the media regarding missing Cameron International field technician, Ian McKee, 27, of Morgantown, W.Va. - Tara Kinsell / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

BOBTOWN – Pennsylvania State Police, along with employees from Wild Well Control from Houston, Texas, were able to recover what appear to be human remains from a well pad Wednesday that exploded and burned Feb. 11 in Dunkard Township.

Although no positive identification was made, authorities believe bone fragments belong to Ian McKee, 27, a field representative for Cameron International, who was unaccounted for following the explosion shortly before 7 a.m.

Until Wednesday, no one from the state police, Chevron or Cameron would confirm the missing worker was McKee.

State Trooper Stefani Plume said the remains were turned over to the Greene County coroner’s office with hopes it can identify the remains as McKee.

Stefan Radwanski, vice president and general manager of the Surface Systems division of Cameron, said during a news conference at Bobtown Fire Department, the company was in contact with McKee’s family and will continue assisting them.

“All of us are deeply saddened and our thoughts and prayers are with Ian McKee’s family,” Radwanski said.

Police and workers from Wild Well Control were able to move onto the site after it was determined to be “safe for access,” Plume said. Scott Perry, state Department of Environmental Protection deputy secretary who oversees the oil and gas bureau, said earlier Wednesday that the charred crane was moved, not off location, but far enough away from the damaged well heads to allow Wild Well Control to work safely.

A 30-foot diverter pipe was installed Wednesday at the area of the defective well head to move the gas away from it while work begins. Perry said the gas continues to flow horizontally across the well site so the pipe was the best method for redirecting it.

“Now that that work has been done the next step is to remove the damaged well heads and replace them with a capping device with a self-controlled blowout preventer on it,” Perry said.

Adam Nightingale, vice president of human resources for Cameron, said McKee was a field technician, and began working for the company in 2012. Nightingale said McKee has a pregnant fiancée in Morgantown, W.Va.

Nigel Hearne, vice president of Appalachian Operation for Chevron, said, “We wish to give our sincere and heartfelt condolences to the family, friends, loved ones and colleagues of Mr. McKee.”

“We also are supporting our own people going through this. Our people are our greatest assets and this is devastating to the family, the community and to he Chevron workforce,” he said.

Hearne said Chevron is doing everything it can to understand what took place and to prevent it from happening again.

“We are focused on making sure people are safe while working on this,” he said.

Tara Kinsell started her career in journalism with the National Geographic Insider Magazine and the Gaithersburg Gazette Newspaper in Montgomery County, Md. Tara has written and photographed sports, features and news stories for the Herald Standard, Greene County Messenger and Albert Gallatin Weekly. She holds degrees in journalism and graphic design from Waynesburg College, now Waynesburg University, and the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, respectively.

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