Derrick Hurtt, a lifetime resident of West, Texas, says the major plant explosion that rocked his small hometown last week left him feeling for a split-second like he had died.
Hurtt caught the deadly blast on a cell phone camera a couple of blocks away, creating a video that ultimately went viral. The explosion at West Fertilizer Co. last week left at least 14 people dead and hundreds of others injured. Hurtt described his harrowing experience to the Waco Tribune Friday.
“It was pitch-black. You think you’re dead,” he said. “And then that mushroom sucked all the darkness back into the cloud, all that black smoke. In the daylight, you realize that you’re not dead.”
Hurtt told the Today Show Thursday that he and his daughter, who can be heard screaming in the video, suffered no permanent injuries, but that his “inner-ear” is a little sore.
“I’m pretty sure it lifted the truck off the ground,” Hurtt said of the blast in the Today Show interview.
The explosion, which leveled houses in the area, has brought increased scrutiny on West Fertilizer Co’s safety record leading up to the blast; it’s also heightened the focus on safety standards at similar plants. Occupational health experts told The Huffington Post last week that the blast reveals the nation’s poor state of workplace safety laws and their enforcement.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration -- an agency plagued with limited resources -- hadn’t inspected West in more than 20 years. In addition, the company told the Environmental Protection Agency and local authorities that there was “no” risk of explosion at the plant, according to a required emergency planning report reviewed by the Dallas Morning News.