BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — An oil worker who is severely injured from an explosion has been in and out of surgeries over the last several days.

Leo Andrade has been fighting for his life after an explosion at an abandoned oil well on Friday. His team was working to plug the well when something went wrong.

The explosion has shaken not just Leo Andrade’s family but the rest of the Bakersfield oil community.

“Our industry is a huge family,” Chad Hathaway the CEO of Hathaway LLC said. “It really puts a bad spot in everyone’s stomach because we are very very close as an industry.”

Chad Hathaway the CEO of Hathaway LLC explains what Andrade’s team was working on at the abandoned well.

“This is an idle well that was under the purview of the state of California and was permitted to be abandoned on an accelerated schedule,” Hathaway said. “So the well has to be completely cleaned all the way to the bottom of the well. Then it has to be plugged with cement over any open zones. The wellhead is cut off, it’s capped, inspected and buried.”

But something went wrong during the procedure. Whether it was a mechanical or human error we don’t know. We do know Andrade was blown off the platform he was working on.
Almost killing him in the process. His family recounts the heartbreaking moments after receiving the catastrophic news.

“I ran outside our house and I just buckled down,” Leo Andrade’s wife Danielle said. “I lost it. He’s my whole world. He’s loving, he’s patient you know and I just.. He’s just the light of my world.”

“When I got off the phone I just got on my knees and prayed,” Leo’s sister Bedalia Andrade said. “My baby was next to me and she was just basically hugging me like she knew. She was probably praying over me to keep it together and that’s what I did. I got on my knees and I pleaded with God to please be with him in that hospital bed.”

Families who have loved ones working in the oil industry shouldn’t be panicked about their safety, according to Hathaway. There is a risk as with most jobs operating around large machinery and high-pressure systems but safety measures are in place and disasters are rare.

“It’s rare. I mean we have been pushed at an incredibly accelerated pace by the state of California to do this kind of work,” Hathaway said. “Things like that happen when you do things at an accelerated schedule. You know we have to sometimes do things that I think that in our business we wouldn’t do so quickly.”

Andrade’s family says they will only think of the best for Leo and continue to pray for his recovery.

“He’s really strong,” Leo’s cousin Jesus Espinoza said. “We all know that it’s going to be ok. Like somehow we know that God is with him.”

Leo Andrade’s wife Danielle told 17 News Leo’s surgeries all went well and all that’s left is to trust in God. They still ask for prayers from the community to help him with his recovery and ongoing procedures.