Denver City, TX Leaking Gas From Oil Well, Feb 1975

DENVER CITY TX GAS LEAK 2 DENVER CITY TX GAS LEAK FEB 1975

9 SAW DEATH COMING BUT COULDN'T ESCAPE.

Denver City, Tex. (AP) - Nine persons tried frantically to outrun death and almost made it, but leaking gas from an oil well wafted through the fog and drizzle and killed them.
Tom Merrill, who saw death coming, gathered his wife and two sons and escaped.
Eight of the dead were found outside a house, about 50 yards from the Merrill home and 200 yards from the leaking well-head.
Dressed in bed clothes, they tried to flee through the rain to safety about 5 a.m. Sunday. Five were found in one car, two in a pickup truck, and the eighth had fallen under the truck.
"The house showed all the way through desperate efforts were made to leave," one witness said.
"Chairs were overturned and beds rumpled."
The ninth victim, an oil field worker sent to investigate the leak, was found dead in his pickup truck.
The dead were identified as:
J. C. PATTON, 45;
his wife, GLENDA FERN PATTON, 36;
their daughter, DELORES PATTON, 17;
CLARA PEEVEY, 14, Delores's friend;
PETE AMERSON, 48;
his wife, EDITH AMERSON, 40, of Portales, N.M.;
J. R. MAY, 57;
his 56-year-old wife EVELYN GRACE MAY;
STEVE EUGENE SPARGER, 19, the oil field worker.
Mrs. May was the mother of Mrs. Patton and Mrs. Amerson.
Cas Windham, area supervisor for Atlantic Richfield, which owns the well about 3 miles from Denver City in the Texas Panhandle, said the hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide fumes leaked from an experimental injection well in which Atlantic Richfield was using gas instead of water to recover more oil.
SPARGER, employed by Atlantic Richfield, apparently drove to the site and was overcome in his pickup truck.

The Daily Tribune Wisconsin Rapids Wisconsin 1975-02-02