Man Killed On the Job by a Gas Leak in Martin County

Posted on Jul 22, 2014

A gas plant operator from Marfa was killed recently in Martin County. Another oilfield worker found Johnny Plasentillo, 47, collapsed beside a line spewing natural gas.

The accident took place at a west Texas gas compressor station; Plasentillo's job was to visit various compressor stations and recording readings, like a pumper on an oilfield lease. Right now, sources say that authorities are still not sure what caused the man's death. Responding deputies said there were minor abrasions on Plasentillo's face, but there was no fire and hydrogen sulfide gas—which is poisonous—was not present in the area. They also said there was no type of liquid spilled.

The Midland Reporter-Telegram, however, is reporting that Plasentillo was killed by a natural gas leak. Martin County Chief Deputy Ernest Wakefield said EMS and law enforcement responders were notified that natural gas was escaping from the station and that Plasentillo was found laying on the ground. EMS had to wait until the gas was turned off before they could get to Plasentillo, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

Officials with the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) are still investigating the death and an autopsy was ordered. OSHA is the main federal agency charged with the enforcement of safety and health legislation, and its agents frequently investigate fatal workplace accidents.

West Texas Gas was formed in 1976 and operates in Texas and the Oklahoma Panhandle region. According to its website, company operations include natural gas gathering and processing, distribution, and transmission, along with oil and gas production and refined products distribution.

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Tom Hall
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Board Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in Personal Injury Trial Law