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Second oilfield accident takes one more life

June 21, 2013

A Big Spring man was killed Thursday morning in an accident in northern Howard County at an oilfield yard near the intersection of U.S. Highway 87 and FM 2230, the second oilfield-related fatality in Howard County in approximately 24 hours.

Juan Manual Estrada-Duarte, 59, of Big Spring was pronounced dead at Scenic Mountain Medical Center shortly after the accident, which was reported at 10:33 a.m.

Estrada-Duarte was pronounced dead by Precinct 1 Place 1 Justice of the Peace Bennie Green, according to Sheriff Stan Parker.

“Deputies with the HCSO were dispatched to an oilfield accident in the Athlon Yard in Howard County,” Parker said. “Upon arrival, it was discovered employees of Earthco, which were contracted by Athlon, were working on a heater treater when it rolled onto one of the employees, pinning him against a second treater.”

Parker said Estrada-Duarte was only trapped a brief time, however, the weight of the heater treater — a large, cylindrical, heavy piece of equipment used in the pumping of crude oil — had done its damage.

“The victim was only trapped for a matter of minutes. The equipment needed to rescue him was already on the scene, so it was done quickly,” he said. “He was taken to the emergency room at Scenic Mountain Medical Center, where he was treated for his injuries. He was pronounced dead at approximately 12:10 p.m.”

Parker said he expects the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to handle the investigation into Estrada-Duarte's death.

Earthco — a company based in Big Spring — is often contracted by oilfield companies to handle the transportation and installation of heater treaters, according to Parker.

“A lot of the oilfield companies will contract some of the work on their wells out to local companies. It's not uncommon at all,” Parker said.

Tim Blackshear, owner of Earthco and a former mayor of Big Spring, said the loss of Estrada-Duarte will be felt for years to come.

“Juan Estrada has been a valuable member of the Earthco family for 22 years,” Blackshear said. “His loss will leave a void which can never be filled.”

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