The Stavens Bros, Inc. employee who was , , was a happy-go-lucky kind of guy who had an enormous amount of well drilling knowledge.
“He would kid around a lot, sarcastic sense of humor,” Jeff Dion, the office manager Stavens Bros., Inc., said Thursday morning. “He was well liked from everybody. We all respected him. He had well drilling knowledge. He just generally seemed to enjoy coming to work and hanging out with the guys.”
Dion said that Petersen’s family was in the well drilling business, with his parents owning their own company, so he has been a well-driller his whole life. Petersen had worked for Stavens Bros., Inc. for 10 years before owning his own company and then returning again in 2000. He added that Petersen had an incredible knack of remembering different things about different wells, even if they were done 20 years agao.
Dion said that Petersen, 61, was getting close to retirement age but hadn’t made the leap yet.
“He enjoyed coming here,” he said. “He had chances to retire but he enjoyed coming to work and hanging out with us guys.”
Petersen is a Vietnam veteran who has a close family, Dion said.
“I’m sure they’re all devastated,” he said.
Dion said that at the time of the accident, both guys that were on the job had started this kind of work right out of high school so they were very well experienced, each of them with more than 20 years of experience.
He said that what happened with the well doesn’t normally happen.
“We’re not sure how this hole just develops,” he said. “It’s not something that happens that we’ve ever seen before – that it was such a quick depression. If it was, we would have ropes on guys and better safety in place, but the guys take their time when they’re out there and make sure that everything is done right and handle all the safety precautions necessary to make sure everybody in the crew is safe. At the time the hole developed, it shouldn’t have. If something would happen like this, it should have been at beginning of the drilling and not after the pipe has been set.”
When Petersen, who is from Vernon, went into the well, his partner did everything he could to save him. Dion said the partner called him and told him to call 911, and went back to trying to rescue Petersen.
“I thought he was kinda smart to just tell me,” he said. “I know that if they say to call 911, I just call 911, I don’t ask questions. If he had called 911, they could have kept him on the phone for a minute and kinda hurt the amount of time he could have been rescuing Marty. He did everything he could as far as getting help without taking too much time and get back to the rescue.”
Dion said that the partner got close to rescuing Petersen, even getting him to latch onto the hook with a rope on it that he was throwing.
“His partner tried as hard as he could and I feel he got very close to rescuing him and just fell a little short, it just happened too quick,” Dion said.
He said that the first responders arrived quickly, but at that point, Petersen was unconscious and was unable to help the responders rescue him.
“We’re all very sad that this happened,” Dion said. “We’re a very close group of guys, we have 10 employees. Just having something like this happen is just kind of devastating. It’s just very tragic and everybody at Stavens is very sad about it and we send our deepest sympathies to the family. I’m just in the process of doing everything I can to help the family out.”
Dion said that everyone at the company is going to need some time and is going to try to stay busy.
“It will eat us up if we don’t,” he said.
He said that the hole is still sinking and the rig is starting to tip over, so a crew is on scene to try to get the rig out of the area.
“They’re using every precaution to save the rig from tipping over and stay out of harms way,” Dion said. “When they call me, I’ll be relieved that we’re out of that area. They’re doing everything they can to get that out of there without anything else happening. I’m waiting for that call. I’m sure they’ll be safe but I’m waiting for the call that everything did go well.”