Life took a dramatic change for Booneville native Jacob and his wife Laramie Ashely on Feb. 18.
Laramie missed a phone call that night from a phone number she assumed to be from her husband, an oil rig worker in Piedomont, Okla. When she returned the call she learned he husband had been hit with a pipe.
“His safety guy called me at 8 o’clock that night when it happened, but I missed the call,” said Larmie. “I called back thinking it was just Jacob calling to talk to me. He said ‘your husband was hit in the head with a pipe and we had to take him to the emergency room.’”
Laramie said she assumed that meant, “he probably had a gash on his head, they’re going to staple it up and he’ll be fine.”
Jacob, a 24-year old Booneville High School graduate who worked a 14-day session then was off for the same amount of time, was only two days shy of coming home to his home in Charleston to his wife and daughter.
After the phone call, Laramie arrived at the Oklahoma City trauma center shortly after 11 p.m. to learn the rest of the story.
The pipe that struck her husband weighed between 650 to 800 pounds, and the damage was extensive.
Jacob had suffered a broken back — two vertabrae were shattered — he had four broken ribs and he had no feeling in his right arm.
A single latch elevator is employed to raise pipes into the air, Jacob explains.
He understands a change was made to which inserts were used in the device by a previous shift and he was not informed of the change.
“I hooked (the pipe) up and flagged the operator to hoist it up. About 20 feet in the air it fell and my head deflected it and it hit my shoulder,” said Jacob.
He wasn’t told, but says he assumes, he was “thrown into something and the pipe landed on me.”
“I remember looking up at my driller and he was holding me down and told me to stay still,” Jacob said. “It took a few of them, I was trying to move.”
Though he was on the rig floor, Jacob was 26-30 feet into the air and had to be immobilized en route to the ambulance to be taken to the emergency room.
He would have one surgery and spent 16 days in the hospital — 10 in Oklahoma City and another six in a rehabilitation hospital. The injuries required 57 stables in his back along with spinal fusion. There were another seven staples in his head.
Laramie was able to stay with her husband only part of the ordeal, having exhausted available time off from her job as a cardiac stenographer, forcing multiple trips to the care centers.
Because he still has no feeling in his right arm — the injury is similar to Brachial plexus injury babies can suffer during birth — Laramie has to handle, literally and figuratively, almost everything for her husband these days, including hygiene.
“I have to help him get situated in bed, getting comfortable, making sure he takes his medicine when he’s supposed to,” she said. “Getting him to his doctor’s appointments because he can’t drive any more.”
Surgery is an option for the right shoulder — Jacob is right handed — but that’s in the future.
For now, Jacob also wears protective gear any time he is elevated over a 30 degree angle. Basically, that’s any time he isn’t laying down.
The gear is frightening for his 6-month old daughter, who he says he cannot pick up, hold, or even hug.
However, Jacob is thankful he is still with her and her mother.
“I’m thankful that it didn’t happen the way it could have gone,” Jacob said. “Just thankful to be here and thankful to have another chance.”
After the accident, OK Energy Today reported on its website, “The Patterson Drilling Company could be in store for another federal investigation following (the) Sunday night incident that left a worker injured at an oil-drilling rig near Piedmont.
“Patterson is the same company that owned the rig that blew up last month and killed five workers near the southeast Oklahoma town of Quinton.”