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Wife of worker killed in oil rig blast: It's a disaster in every sense of the word

By adriana_acosta
June 14, 2010 at 1:14 a.m.

Shelly Anderson poses with photos of her family. She was invited by President Obama to the White House last week. She and other families asked him not to stop oil drilling.

BAY CITY - Jason Anderson was not scheduled for work that week.

Just promoted to senior tool pusher, he was scheduled to move the next morning to the Discoverer Spirit, a double-hulled, dynamically positioned drill ship.

His rig manager insisted that he work before his promotion, said Shelly Anderson, Jason's wife. She was one of two area families to travel last week to Washington, D.C., to meet with President Obama.

"If you ask Jason to do something, he's going to do it," she said.

But the move to another rig never happened; instead, Anderson was one of the 11 who lost their lives in April on the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico.

THE NEWS

Shelly was getting her daughter ready for school when she caught a glimpse of the breaking news on television.

She received a phone call from her friend, asking if she had seen the news of the explosion.

Don't worry about it, it can't be Jason's rig, she told her friend.

Anderson's rig was 250 miles offshore, and the news reported on a rig that was 40 miles offshore, she told her friend.

"Jason always said, 'No news is good news.' If you don't hear anything then I am probably OK," she said.

That wasn't the case this time.

She didn't receive any news about the explosion from Transocean for two days.

"We went online and got the phone numbers off the website, but they would just take my name and number and never would say if anything had happened," she said.

She heard that wives were driving to Louisiana to pick up their husbands, but she was asked not to go.

"Why is everyone going to Louisiana, but I can't go?" she asked.

Information about her husband's whereabouts was limited, and she was told that her husband might have made it on one of the boats.

The boats arrived, and he wasn't on them. He was one of the 11 missing.

After the Coast Guard called off the search, she experienced shock and disbelief, she said.

"We are supposed to live happily ever after," she said as tears rolled down her face.

"He is everything to me, and now he's gone."

HAPPY MEMORIES

For now, all Shelly has are the memories of her husband.

"He used to put his arms around me and hold me tight, and tell me everything would be OK," she said, remembering their lives together.

Shelly has the love and support from family and friends, but says it's not the same without her husband.

"He was such a super dad and spent as much time with the kids as he could when he was home," she said.

They don't have a daddy anymore, that's not fair, she said.

Ryver Clay, who is 16 months old, is too young to understand, she said.

But Lacy, their 8-year-old daughter knows her daddy is not coming home.

"She might not understand the concept of what happened, but she knows he went to work and there was a fire and now he is in heaven," she said.

LAST VISIT HOME

Spending time with family and camping trips were some of the things the Andersons would do as a family when he was home visiting from work.

On his last visit, they traveled to Palacios for a camping trip.

"I purchased some really cheap meat that was on sale at the grocery store," she said, remembering that day.

"It was absolutely horrible, you couldn't even chew it. Jason tried to feed it to the fish as bait and the crabs wouldn't even eat it," she said, jokingly.

Jason would also escape for a few days and spend time golfing with his friends, she said.

In between camping trips, family time and golfing, they were both working on the expansion of their home.

Not agreeing on what color to paint the house was a topic of conversation on his last trip home.

Jason always let her win, as a way to compromise, she said.

"I decided on brown paint, because he was not here to argue," she said with a sad tone in her voice.

Next month will be their 8-year wedding anniversary, and although he was scheduled to work that day, they were going to celebrate as soon as he came back.

"As long as we were together, it didn't matter what we did to celebrate," she said.

NATIONAL ATTENTION

Shelly admits it is hard to watch the news every day, mostly because most of the coverage of the oil spill includes video of a burning rig.

"My husband didn't get off of that rig and I have to sit and watch that. That's hard," she said.

She is worried and sad for the future of fishermen along the Gulf Coast, who wont be able to go back to work for the next few years.

On her visit to Washington, D.C., to meet with the president, she and other families asked him not to stop oil drilling.

"A lot of people depend upon this industry, and slowing it down is not what we want to do," she added.

Anderson said they also went to Washington to help stop the Death on the High Seas Act, which prohibits families from suing corporations to hold them responsible for deaths that occur on vessels more than three miles from shore.

The words of Anthony Hager, the chief operating officer of BP echo through her mind when he said, "I'd like to get my life back."

"Well, my husband will never have his life back; my children's lives and my life have changed forever. So a little of that ticks me off. It's a disaster in every sense of the word, and it's hard to watch," she said.

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