Wednesday, August 03, 2011

A death in Marcellus Shale country

We keep being told that natural gas extraction by hydrofracking can be done safely, responsibly, and without harming the environment. We keep being told that this can be done. So the question is, why isn't it being done?

We all knew this day was coming, what with the overweight trucks carrying loads of water and chemicals roaring all over the back roads and highways of Marcellus Shale country. We all knew that at some point, somehow, somebody from Northeastern Pennsylvania, some innocent bystander, was going to get killed as a consequence of the mostly-unregulated explosion of natural gas drilling operations in this area. And on July 31, 2011, it happened.

One Dead, One Injured in Crash With Fracking Truck

Lawsville Center, Susquehanna County - One person is dead and another in the hospital after a truck hauling materials for natural gas drilling was involved in a crash in Susquehanna County.

"We saw the accident. He didn't even stop. He just ran over that car. It was horrible," said Lisa Ryan of Lawsville Center.

She couldn't believe her eyes Friday night in Liberty Township, Susquehanna County. She witnessed a truck, hauling materials for a natural gas drilling site, flip onto a car around seven o'clock.

"It's just horrible, just horrible what happened. I was hugging that girl that was in that accident, I had blood all over me," said Ryan.

State police say the truck came down State Route 29 and tipped onto this Subaru sedan, killing the driver inside and injuring a passenger. A horrific sight to see for some.

"I don't know if I want to talk about it. It was just really bad," said Brenton Warner of Lawsville Center. "It was just coming down too fast and he wasn't paying attention. He wrecked the car really bad."

The driver of the truck was not harmed.
(Read the rest here.)

From the Wilkes-Barre Citizens' Voice:
Driver killed when drilling truck overturns

LIBERTY TWP. - State police in Susquehanna County are investigating a two-vehicle crash that killed a 57-year-old man from Brackney Friday evening.

State police said a commercial truck driven by James Robert Hoffpauir, 50, of Montgomery, Texas, overturned onto a Subaru Legacy at the intersection of Laurel Lake Road and state Route 29 at about 6:50 p.m. The driver of the Subaru, John Jones III, was killed. Both an unnamed 17-year-old passenger of Jones', as well as Hoffpauir, were moderately injured, state police said.

The truck is owned by Casa Grande, Ariz.-based Southeast Directional Drilling LLC.
(Read more here.)

So what happens next? What will the charges be in this case? Manslaughter? Vehicular homicide? Reckless endangerment? Failing to come to a complete stop?

Most likely: none of the above. Accidents will happen. Sacrifices must be made. The cost of doing business.

Pennsylvania roads are dangerous any time of year: mountainous, curvy, full of surprises like herds of deer, or children at play. Many truckers drive with a reckless disregard for both speed limits and the safety of the little vehicles all around them. In this case it may be that such disregard, coupled with an out-of-state trucker with little familiarity with navigating hills in an overloaded vehicle, resulted in the totally avoidable death of someone who happened to be in the wrong place in the wrong time.

School buses begin rolling in just a few weeks. Then the leaves will turn colors and fall from the trees, and then Winter will follow with generous helpings of snow and ice and fog. If these out-of-state truckers are incapable of operating vehicles safely in late July, how well will they be able to navigate in environmental conditions with which they are completely unfamiliar?

How long until the first tragic collision of a fracking truck with a school bus?

UPDATE, 12/28/2011: A suit has finally been filed. No word of criminal charges.

Drilling company faces suit in fatal crash - News - The Times-Tribune

A federal lawsuit has been filed against a drilling company that is part of the natural gas industry in Northeast Pennsylvania, claiming an overweight Mack truck and its reckless driver killed a man in a crash when the truck toppled onto his car.

The wife of John T. Jones III and his 18-year-old daughter, Allison Jones, who futilely tried to revive her dying father in the Susquehanna County crash in July, are plaintiffs in the federal suit filed Dec. 13 against Southeast Directional Drilling and company employee, James R. Hoffpauir, according to the suit.

The wrongful death suit seeks more than $75,000.

Mr. Hoffpauir, of Montgomery, Texas, was driving a company 1998 Mack Truck east on Route 4002 in Liberty Twp. on July 29 when he failed to stop at a stop sign at an intersection with Route 29, the suit states.

Mr. Hoffpauir then drove south in the northbound lane of Route 29 where his truck hit Mr. Jones' 2011 Subaru Legacy, which was driving north, and overturned onto it, the suit states.

The suit claims the Casa Grande, Ariz., drilling company's truck was overweight and was carrying a tanker loaded with roughly 3,000 gallons of mud.

The company has a "combined field experience of over one hundred years in pipelining and directional drilling," according to its website, and in summer 2011, was conducting natural gas drilling operations in Susquehanna County, according to the suit.

Todd Barton, a company vice president, declined to comment about the federal lawsuit against his company when reached by phone on Thursday.

Efforts to locate Mr. Hoffpauir were unsuccessful.

Allison Jones, who was a passenger in her 57-year-old father's car, was trapped but managed to pull herself out while her arms and legs were bleeding.

"Allison Jones was 17 years old at the time of the collision, and her physical and emotional scars will remain with her for the rest of her life," according to the suit.

Read more:

And from the comments to this article:

Here in Troy, PA we have a running list of people killed and people maimed by gas drillers drivers. My best friends daughter has been in physical theropy for over a year after being broadsided and shoved down a country road. The gas men use a lot of dope to stay awake on the long hours and other drugs to amuse themselves while waiting for loads in isolated places according to a conversation I was forced to over-hear in the Edgewood Restaurant.A young and very high driver from a Talisman site was upset because an older driver was trying to get him to stop smoking pot in the tanker truck. The younger mans justifacation was that, "Well everyone is bored and everyone is doing it". When the older man realized I was listening to the, very loud, young man and he wasn't going to stop, the older gentleman got up and left.


dr.antony said...

I think something can be done if people of the county join hands and make a very firm resolution.Sometimes we need to make strong protests to get noticeable.

Anonymous said...

It's really horrible. Their family came to our Church last Sunday as our Pastor officiated the Funeral. The girl is in trauma over watching her Dad die from inside the car. He left another daughter behind as well with both nearing college age. And we haven't heard any more news about whats to come of it all except the driver was unlicensed and from out of state. What will be done? Probably nothing. The fracking industry has not only polluted our pristine waterways (another accident last week dunped a tanker of fracking mud into Silver Creek) they have polluted the local and state governments with their billions of dollars. "under investigation" ? Right. Over a week and no further word or charges. Is this gas worth our drinking water, waterways, and now human lives. Guess so and we have deaf money lined ears that don't hear us cry out in Susquehanna County.