5 missing after natural gas well catches fire in Oklahoma

Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 11:24 AM
Updated: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 11:24 AM

VIDEO: 5 Missing After Oklahoma Natural Gas Well Catches Fire

Five workers remained missing Tuesday after a natural gas well exploded and caught fire in Oklahoma one day earlier, sending out a smoke plume that could be seen for miles.

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Officials said 16 other employees were able to get out of the area safely. One person was flown to a Tulsa hospital for treatment of unspecified injuries.

Emergency officials let the fire burn itself out and fought any flames that went beyond a perimeter they established. 

Pittsburg County officials said they moved the mission from rescue to recovery on Tuesday. When the scene cools, the medical examiner will check the scene.

The missing individuals were identified Friday, including:

  • Josh Ray, of Fort Worth, Texas
  • Matt Smith, of McAlester, Oklahoma
  • Cody Risk, of Wellington, Colorado
  • Parker Waldridge, of Crescent, Oklahoma
  • Roger Cunningham, of Seminole, Oklahoma

Ray, Smith and Risk worked for oil drilling company Patterson-UTI Energy Inc., which owns the well.

The company’s CEO, Andy Hendricks, said at a news conference that Patterson-UTI is supporting the families of the missing employees and working with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration as the agency investigates.

Workers will retain their jobs despite the loss of their job site, according to Patterson-UTI officials.

Authorities said the public was safe from contaminates and that there was no need for evacuations. 

Pittsburg County emergency managers and the county sheriff confirmed around 9 a.m. local time that an explosion and fire took place at a well in Quinton.

The well is owned by oil drilling company Patterson-UTI Energy Inc., employees confirmed. In a statement, company officials said they were unaware of what caused the fire.

“We have received reports that some of our employees and others are unaccounted for at this time,” the statement said. “Our top priority is the safety of our employees and any others who may be affected. We've activated our emergency response systems and are fully cooperating with first responders and authorities on the scene. We will provide more details as they are known.”

The company's president and CEO, Andy Hendricks, later released a separate statement:

All of us at Patterson-UTI are deeply saddened by the news of the incident in Pittsburg County, Oklahoma, this morning. Our hearts go out to the families of the five missing individuals, three of whom are Patterson-UTI employees. We've reached out to their families and are providing support during this difficult time.

At this moment, no one knows with certainty what happened, and it would be unwise to speculate. Well control experts and emergency responders are on site and we will conduct a thorough investigation when the incident is fully contained. We will provide updates as more facts are known.

There is nothing more important to us than the safety of our employees and others we partner with in the field. Tonight, our thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected and their loved ones.

Red Mountain Energy was operating the well.

FOX23 storm chasers in the area spotted the smoke plume from the fire miles away.

Grief counselors and religious leaders were offering support to families and workers on Monday. The American Red Cross was also working to help first responders as they worked to contain the fire.

Fire crews also searched woods for anyone that may have run from the scene, but they didn’t find anyone. Searches are expected to resume once the area cools down.

The drilling company has reportedly notified the families of the five missing people.

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President Donald Trump admits to trying to hide his bald spot

Published: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 11:14 PM

U.S. President Donald Trump jokes about covering his bald spot while addressing the Conservative Political Action Conference.
 (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump jokes about covering his bald spot while addressing the Conservative Political Action Conference. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Over the years, much has been speculated about President Donald Trump’s hair, but he’s never admitted to having a reason for choosing his particular hairstyle other than the fact that it’s the way he “likes it.” However, on Friday, that all changed when he finally admitted to having a bald spot — and trying to hide it.

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“Oh, I try like hell to hide the bald spot, folks. I work at it,” he told the crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Oxon Hill, Maryland. “It doesn’t look bad. Hey, we are hanging in, we are hanging in, we are hanging in there. Right? Together, we are hanging in.”

Trump’s honest take on his hair came after a video of him boarding Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base on Feb. 2 revealed a bald spot on the back of his head when his signature mane was whipped by the gusty wind.

Trump’s hair has been a topic of conversation for years, and he has often talked about it himself. In a much-maligned interview on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon,” the late-night host was allowed to mess up then-candidate Trump’s hair to prove that it was real.

Trump has also made it clear multiple times that he doesn’t wear a wig or a “rug” as he’s called it. “As everybody knows, but the haters and losers refuse to acknowledge, I do not wear a ‘wig.’ My hair may not be perfect, but it’s mine,” he once wrote on Twitter.

“I do not wear a rug. My hair is 100 percent mine. No animals have been harmed in the creation of my hairstyle,” the former businessman quipped in his book, “Trump: How to Get Rich.”

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FDA approves blood test that can detect concussions 

Published: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 10:58 PM

Maxime Chanot #4 of New York City FC holds his head after a clash of heads form a corner kick during the New York City FC Vs San Jose Earthquakes regular season MLS game at Yankee Stadium on April 1, 2017 in New York City. 
Tim Clayton - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images
Maxime Chanot #4 of New York City FC holds his head after a clash of heads form a corner kick during the New York City FC Vs San Jose Earthquakes regular season MLS game at Yankee Stadium on April 1, 2017 in New York City. (Tim Clayton - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved a breakthrough blood test that can help detect concussions in adults.

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The blood test, also known as the Banyan Brain Trauma Indicator Test, works by measuring UCH-L1 and GFAP, both proteins released from the brain into the blood, within 12 hours of a head injury.

It can be administered as soon as 15 minutes after the injury, but results take a few hours to produce.

>> Related: When love isn’t enough: A daughter’s suicide leaves a grieving father searching for answers

According to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, traumatic brain injury is a “serious public health problem in the United States.” In 2013 alone, there were about 2.8 million visits to emergency rooms for traumatic brain injury-related conditions. Of these, nearly 50,000 people died.

TBI is typically caused by a blow or bump to the head, or a by a head injury that disrupts the brain’s normal functioning. It can range from mild to severe. About 75 percent of TBIs that occur each year are assessed as mild TBIs or concussions. 

>> Related: Spit test could diagnose concussion in kids, study says

Most patients with traumatic brain injury undergo a neurological exam, followed by a CT scan.

For their research, the FDA evaluated data on 1,947 individual blood samples from adults with suspected mild TBI or concussion and reviewed the product’s performance by comparing blood test results with CT scan results.

They found the blood test was 97.5 percent as effective in detecting concussion and 99.6 perfect as effective in ruling out the injury.

The test also costs as little as one-tenth as much as a CT scan.

» RELATED: Which high school sports have the most concussions? 

"A blood test that accurately, reliably and consistently detects the presence of brain proteins that appear in the blood after a brain injury is a major advance," Dr. David Dodick, a fellow of the American Academy of Neurology who specializes in sports medicine and neurology, told CNN. Dodick was not involved in the study.

One of the challenges of diagnosing concussions is that the injury’s symptoms can occur at various times. For some, they appear instantly. Others may not experience symptoms for hours or even days.

» RELATED: Football players under 12 at high risk of brain injury, study finds

Symptoms also vary from person to person. Some may experience light or noise sensitivity, or may lose balance.

“This is something that has been a long time coming,” Col. Dallas Hack, who was director of the Army’s Combat Casualty Care Research Program from 2008 to 2014 and is now retired, told the New York Times. 

“The concept originally was that we would have something that medical personnel in the field would be able to use to assess whether somebody who had received a head injury needed a higher level of care,” Hack said.

» RELATED: Youth football called ‘child abuse’

But Dodick told CNN that researchers still need to better understand when brains have fully healed from trauma and how the protein biomarkers may actually affect prognosis. Additionally, it’s unclear whether or not the new test can determine subconcussive blows, hits to the head that don’t always cause symptoms but do cause brain injury. 

Subconcussive or repeat blows are believed to lead to the neurodegenerative disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. Over time, that damage may lead to personality changes, mood disorders and other behavioral issues.

"These occur much more often than actual concussions, especially in certain collision and contact sports,” Dodick told CNN.

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Teen admits to killing Memphis couple, setting apartment on fire

Published: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 9:42 PM


Joe Raedle/Getty Images
(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

An arrest has been made after a Memphis couple was found dead in an apartment that went up in flames Thursday afternoon.

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Aareon Berryman, 18, has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder, especially aggravated robbery, aggravated arson, possession of marijuana with the intent to manufacture or sell, and possession of ecstasy with the intent to manufacture or sell. 

On Thursday afternoon, a Memphis Police Department officer said he heard multiple gunshots coming from an apartment complex located in the 3500 block of Tall Oaks Circle. Witnesses began yelling, "It's a robbery happening," he said.

Moments later, the officer said he found Berryman running northbound from an apartment unit engulfed in flames. After a short foot chase, Berryman was caught and taken into custody. Officers said they asked the suspect if anyone was still in the apartment. 

>> Related: Husband, wife found dead in Memphis apartment that went up in flames 

Berryman said there were two other people inside the burning apartment where he "left them," police officials said.

The Memphis Fire Department arrived at the scene after being notified of the apartment fire. MFD found the body of Brandon Allen lying on the kitchen floor and the body Regina Allen in the back bedroom. They were pronounced dead on the scene.

Regina and Brandon Allen were found dead in their burned-out Memphis apartment Thursday. A teen has been arrested and charged with arson, murder and other crimes.(Facebook)

The couple had just celebrated Regina's birthday four days ago.

Police said Berryman admitted to killing both victims, taking their property, and setting their apartment on fire.

The suspect allegedly had an AR-15, loaded handgun, 2 jars of marijuana, 3 plastic bags of marijuana, 3 prescription pill bottles, and a bottle of charcoal lighter fluid in his possession at the time of his arrest, authorities said.

>> Related: Family ID's husband and wife found dead in burning apartment

Officials said 8 to 16 units were completely or partially burned out in the process. The total damage was estimated at $254,000 for the buildings and $76,000 worth of contents, according to MFD.

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Man accused of beating wife, an online exhibitionist, to death with absinthe bottle

Published: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 7:01 PM

William Jeffrey
William Jeffrey "Jeff" West(Shelby County Jail)

An Alabama man charged with killing his wife, whose slaying last month unveiled her double life as an online exhibitionist, is accused of beating her to death with a bottle of absinthe, court records show.

The partially-clothed body of Kathleen Dawn “Kat” West, 42, of Calera, was discovered lying in the road in front of her home just after 5 a.m. on Jan. 18, Calera Police Chief Sean Lemley said in a Thursday news conference. She lived there with her husband, William Jeffrey West, and their 12-year-old daughter. 

Jeff West, 44, was arrested Thursday and charged with murder. According to Shelby County Jail records, he was being held Friday in lieu of $500,000 bond. 

The couple’s daughter was not home when her mother was killed.

Lemley said Thursday that Jeff West was the department’s chief suspect from the beginning of the investigation, though Kat West’s “online professional activities” warranted investigators’ attention. 

He declined to specify what evidence pointed them toward her husband. 

“Let me say this. We are still restricted, very restricted, on what information that can be given out,” Lemley said. “The case is still under investigation, even though we have made an arrest. But, the case has to go to trial as well.”

The West murder case has shone a national spotlight on small-town Calera, due mainly to the more salacious details of Kat West’s life. Though she described herself on social media as a full-time stay-at-home wife and mother, she operated a subscription-only adult website where she went by the name “Kitty Kat West.” The public page boasted a suggestive photo and promised users that, for a monthly $15.99 subscription fee, they could get more risqué material beyond the paywall. 

Her Twitter account, also listed under her stage name, directs viewers to the paid adult website, as well. Kat West’s bio on the adult site, which was still live as of Friday, described the site, in part, as “hundreds of pics of ALL me, having some naughty fun.”

In the days immediately following the slaying, Kat West’s mother, Nancy Martin, wrote on Facebook that it seemed “impossible for the extreme sadness and grief we feel (over) the loss of our beautiful daughter, Kat, to ever diminish.” She described her daughter as a “cherished wife to Jeff” and a loving mother to their own young daughter. 

A fundraiser in Kat West’s name was established, but quickly ended as the case became more public. 

On Jan. 24, Martin changed her profile picture to one of her daughter and son-in-law. It remained there as of Friday afternoon. 

See Calera Police Chief Sean Lemley’s news conference, recorded by WBRC in Birmingham, below. 

Lemley said that investigators interviewed many witnesses in the case, as well as collecting a lot of evidence that needed to be processed. Four detectives were assigned to the case, two of them full-time. 

“Evidence takes time to process,” the police chief said. “And we have to wait on that evidence to come in so we can connect all the dots.”

Detectives were awaiting analysis on a final piece of evidence from the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences. That final report was issued on Tuesday and, after a thorough review by the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office, a warrant was issued for Jeff West’s arrest, the chief said. 

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“We know exactly what happened, for the most part, on this case.” Lemley said. “I mean, we can’t tell you verbatim what was being said one way or the other, but we know what happened that night. We do have evidence to support that.”

The chief credited neighboring Shelby County law enforcement agencies, state agencies and the FBI with assisting in the investigation. 

Lemley again declined to go into detail about the evidence, but Jeff West’s arrest warrant, obtained by AL.com, indicates that Kat West was killed with a bottle of Lucid Absinthe. An autopsy found that the victim died of blunt force trauma to the head. 

The court documents state that, when a 19-year-old neighbor left for work Jan. 18, she found Kat West face-down on the ground in nothing but a sports bra, her body half in the roadway and half in the yard of the home across the street. A cellphone was found nearby, along with a green liquor bottle. 

Lucid Absinthe is sold in green bottles. 

TV news magazine Inside Edition on Jan. 25 aired surveillance footage from R&R Wine and Liquor, in Calera, that shows Kat West, just about eight hours before she was killed, walk into the liquor store with a man who appears to be her husband. In the video, the couple looks happy and playful.

“They came in (and) it looked like they were on their date night,” store clerk Stacey Oglesby told Inside Edition.

The couple bought two things that night: Lucid Absinthe and Jameson Irish Whiskey, Oglesby said. 

Lemley said it was not completely clear what could have happened between the couple’s visit to the liquor store, when they appeared happy, and when Kat West was bludgeoned to death. 

“It’s a domestic. Unfortunately, domestics turn bad pretty quickly,” Lemley said. “Anything can trigger it.” 

Jeff West, a military veteran, works as an unsworn police officer at Birmingham Southern College, AL.com reported. Officials at the school said they are in the process of terminating his employment. 

As of Thursday, Jeff West had not admitted involvement in the crime, Lemley said. 

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