“About 9:45pm we saw what appeared to be kind of a fire on the rig then we heard a big explosion about 20 seconds later” Russell says. Shivers adds, “It sounds like sonic booms coming across, if ever hear a jet, sonic boom, I mean just rumbling, 17, 18 miles away, its pretty frightening to hear that sound from that distance.”
Within minutes, the maydays starting coming across the radio, so the duo set off in the direction of the rig….within 25 minutes, they started finding people clinging to life rafts…..Russell says the scene was chaotic. “There were some people hollering, some people just in shock and couldn’t say anything” Russell explains.
They tried to bring the injured on board their vessel, but were told by the Coast Guard they needed to help bring medical supplies to another nearby ship that had just arrived on scene. They say they were not only concerned about the men in the water, but concerned for their own lives as well. Russell says, “You couldn’t get within half a mile without feeling like you were gonna burn up, I mean we would have to run up, pull the boat back, spin and get back.”
Now, the fisherman are trying to help some of the injured rig workers, by giving statements about what they saw to attorney Berney Strauss. He’s representing some of the oil rig workers. But whatever you do, the fishermen say– don’t call them heroes. “I’d say no, go find a rescue helicopter jumper or someone else, no, not at all” Shivers says.
Shivers and Russell plus their other fishing buddy ended up staying around on scene near the oil rig until 3:30 in the morning….waiting until every single person was rescued from the water before they left to go back and fish for some tuna.