Cross Plains, TX Oil Well Explosion, Dec 1958

Geologist Dies in Blast Of Gas Well in Texas

CROSS PLAINS, Texas (AP) - One man died and another suffered critical injuries in a gas well blast near here Wednesday.

The blowout, attributed to heavy pressure from the shut-in gas, killed Dennis Leonard Halepeska, 37, Abilene geologist.

David Morris, about 60, Abilene Independent oil operator, was still unconscious Wednesday night with a head injury. He spent several hours in surgery.

Cross Plains residents heard the explosion on the Charlie Smith farm 1 1/2 miles northeast of here, and the roar of escaping gas also was audible in town. The well did not catch fire.

Tom Bryant, Cross Plains independent operator, and two companions first found Morris lying on the ground about eight feet from the well. They hurried him to a doctor here.

Returning to the well, they discovered the body of Halepeska in the slush pit. The impact of the suddenly released gas was believed to have killed him.

Morris is secretary of Callihan Interests, Inc., an Abilene firm which owns the well.

A Callihan spokesman said the gas, exerting 12,000 pounds of pressure, presumably stripped the threads of a valve and blew the head off.

Halepeska and Morris had left Abilene earlier in the day en route to Comanche, Texas. It was believed they stopped at the well intending to let released gas clean it out or else to check the pressure.

Halepeska, originally from Victoria, Texas, moved to Abilene about nine years ago from Houston. Survivors include his wife, four children and his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Halepeska of Victoria.

The Dallas Morning News, Dallas, TX 18 Dec 1958