Three locals among those on oil rig, one missing

Published 11:44 pm Wednesday, April 21, 2010

VIDALIA — At least three men from the Miss-Lou were on an oil rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico Tuesday night. One of them remained missing as of Wednesday night.

Roy Wyatt Kemp of Monterey was one of the 11 people missing following the explosion, his grandmother Carolyn Kemp said.

“He had only 20 more minutes of work left, but he was working out on the rig at the time of the explosion,” she said.

By Wednesday evening, Carolyn Kemp said she was running out of hope, but that she would continue to pray that her 27-year-old grandson, a father of two, would be found.

The Coast Guard planned to search by sea and air overnight to find the missing men.

Another Monterey man, Wyman W. Wheeler, was on the rig and injured by the explosion, but would likely be OK, his uncle Donnie Wheeler said.

“He was coming out of his living quarters, the rig blew up and it blew him down a set of stairs,” he said.

His nephew’s legs were injured in the explosion and required an operation, Donnie Wheeler said.

Chad Murray, 34, of the Lake St. John community was also on the rig, his sister Christy Murray said.

“My father physically spoke to him (Wednesday night),” she said. “We haven’t actually laid eyes on him, but he’s OK.”

Chad Murray reportedly helped nine other people onto the boat leaving the rig, including Wyman Wheeler, Christy Murray said.

The rig, located approximately 41 miles offshore, burst into flames at approximately 10 p.m. Tuesday. It was still burning late Wednesday, and authorities did not know when it might burn out.

A total of 126 workers were aboard the rig, which is approximately twice the size of a football field, when it blew up. Seventeen people were injured, four critically.

Nearly 100 other workers, reportedly including Murray, made it aboard a supply boat and were expected to reach shore by late evening. The blast Tuesday night aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig could prove to be one of the nation’s deadliest offshore drilling accidents of the past half-century.