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Company, VP Indicted After Texas Double Tragedy

Employee, wife died in poisonous gas leak in 2019
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 30, 2019 10:15 AM CDT
Updated Mar 9, 2022 2:00 PM CST
Poison Gas Kills Husband, Wife Who Went to Check on Him
"It takes like one gasp and that's it."   (Getty Images/standret)

(Newser) Update: A Texas oilfield company and its vice president have been indicted by a federal grand jury on multiple charges connected to the 2019 deaths of an employee and his wife. Jacob Dean died from inhaling hydrogen sulfide gas after being sent to check on a pump house in Odessa. The gas also killed Dean's wife, Natalee, after she went to check on him. Aghorn Operating Inc. and Aghorn Vice President Trent Day have been charged with violating federal clean air laws and obstructing a federal job safety investigation, the AP reports. The charges include "willful violation causing death to an employee," per NewsWest9. Investigators say there were eight hydrogen sulfide monitors at the pump house, but none of them were working on the night of the tragedy. Our original story from October 2019 follows:

A mother and father in Texas died one after the other in a poisonous gas leak, which their two young children thankfully survived. Aghorn Energy employee Jacob Dean was first called to check on a pump house in Odessa around 11pm Saturday, says the Ector County Sheriff's Office. Some time later, Dean's wife, who failed to reach her husband by phone but knew the location of the site, loaded the couple's two kids into her car and drove over. Investigators—contacted by the energy company, which had also failed to reach Dean—later found the bodies of the 44-year-old and 37-year-old Natalee. Both had died from inhaling hydrogen sulfide gas.

"It takes like one gasp and that's it," Sgt. Gary Duesler tells the Odessa American, which reports responding deputies used a H2S gas monitor. Natalee was reportedly overtaken by the gas as she approached the pump house. The two children, a 6-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter, had also suffered mild exposure, though they remained in the car parked some distance away. The pair, who have an 18-year-old sibling, were decontaminated and taken to a hospital before being turned over to grandparents, per the American. A GoFundMe page has been set up to assist the family, per KOSA. It has raised $6,100 as of this writing. (Texas previously saw a case of suicide by hydrogen sulfide.)

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