Family of teens killed in explosion push for safety legislation - - Jackson, MS

Family of teens killed in explosion push for safety legislation

By Ashley Conroy

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - An oil and gas explosion that killed two teens, Devon Byrd, 16 and Wade White, 18 last year in Forrest County has family and friends pushing for legislation to mandate the safety of these sites.

At the Capitol on Thursday, legislators, family and friends, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB), and others attended a hearing on the lack of safety measures at these sites.

A video titled, "No Place to Hang out: The Danger of Oil Sites," was initiated by friends of the two teens.

Friends and family wanted answers and contacted the CSB to find out why lack of safety fences or gates are not present on these sites.

After an investigation, CSB found explosions such as the one that occurred in Carnes, Mississippi happen frequently.

In fact, CSB reports two other cases since the incident in Carnes, one in Texas and the other in Oklahoma, also killing several young adults and teens.

Investigator Vidisha Parasram says she found a total of 26 explosions on oil and gas sites since 1983.

"That's when we discovered there were 44 fatalities to people under 25, who are -- the commonalities is that they are socializing at these sites they really don't recognize that it's a hazard," Parasram said.

Wade White's father, Phillip White, spoke at the hearing on behalf of his son.

He says the incident is still locked in his memory every day. "There's not a day that goes by that you don't relive this and I never want a see anyone else have to go through this experience."

Other family members and friends spoke on behalf of Byrd and White. All relayed the same message that safety should priority at these sites.

"The impact of losing a friend like that to such a serious thing like an oil explosion, just killed me," said friend Cody Hunt, senior at Forrest County Agricultural High School.

Republican State Senator Billy Hudson of Hattiesburg is orchestrating legislation for the 2011 session that will mandate safety precautions around these sites.

"I pledged to them to do everything I could to introduce a bill and during the next legislature to pass a law to make sure this type thing never happens again," Sen. Hudson said.

Meantime, Hunt wants to send this message to others.

"Even though there's no fences and signs, just stay away from it it's not worth it."

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