By LEIA HOLLAND
PECOS, Monday, June 17, 2002 -- Changing out some fittings on a tank battery
at a new well site turned deadly last year when three employees of
Garland Roustabout Service used heat to loosen the fittings.
The tank exploded and Norman Pallanes and Gilberto U. Urias, both of Midland,
were killed. Moments before the explosion the third man, Isais Baeza had
walked away from the tank to get a tool. Baeza survived.
Jury selection began this morning in the 143rd District Court
at the Reeves County Courthouse as the lawsuit by survivors of the two men
Pallanes, 32, and Urias, 27, were killed after the tank they were working
on located 10 miles northwest of Pyote off Highway 2355 exploded on April
Sixteen lawyers representing the multiple plaintiffs and defendants packed
the courtroom tables near District Judge Bob Park's bench this morning.
Defendants named in the lawsuit include Chi Energy, Petroplex Equipment,
Garland Pumping and Roustabout Service and Randall Reynolds as the representative
of the estate of defendant Randy Hernandez who died late last year.
The plaintiffs in the suit allege that the three men sent to the well
site to remove the fittings did not know the tank had been brought on line
for a period of time allowing flammable gases into the tank and that some
or all of the defendants are guilty of negligence in either allowing or ordering
the three men to remove the fittings with the aide of heat.
In their petition plaintiffs ask for a total of $9 million dollars in
compensation and punitive damages.
After the explosion occurred OSHA officials traveled to Pyote to investigate
At that time OSHA officials were still unsure what the exact cause of
the explosion was but it is believed that a spark from a welding torch the
men were using set off the explosion.
Pallanes and Urias were atop of the tank working when the tank exploded
throwing them 60-70 feet away.
Lawyers for the families introduced each plaintiff this morning including
Urias' parents along with Pallanes' mother, wife and five children.
Courthouse personnel expect that it will take a couple of weeks for both
sides to present their case.
Four aliens found on train near Pecos
By JENNIFER GALVAN
PECOS, Monday, June 17, 2002 -- At 5:40 a.m. Sunday, the Pecos Police Department
received a 911 call from a Union Pacific Railroad worker informing
them that there were several unconscious people inside a boxcar on
the tracks near the Shaw Road exit on I-20 west of Pecos.
Deputy Reno Lewis of Balmorhea reported that he had received a call from
dispatch in reference to the unconscious subjects.
According to Lewis' report, the subjects were first believed to be in
the seventh car from the end, a second report then stated that they were
thought to be in the seventeenth car from the end. Deputy Arturo Granado
located only four subjects in the 25th car from the end.
The train conductor also stated to the officers that one person was seen
on or inside the number 2 engine however that person was never located.
The subjects stated that they boarded the train in El Paso and that they
were going to get off when it stopped.
Union Pacific Railroad Spokesman, Mark Davis said that the crew of a train
traveling from Oakland, California to Memphis, Tennessee noticed that four
individuals were seen in and around some local boxcars.
"The train crew noticed four individual around some boxcars," Davis said.
"The train crew then called the train dispatcher who in turned called the
railroad police dispatcher, who then called the Reeves County Sheriff's department."
Davis said that this type of thing happens all the time in which train
crewmembers watch train areas.
"This is a good example of the employees watching the railroads," Davis
said. "We try to keep people off the train so that they may not get hurt
while trying to get on or off a moving of stopped train."
The four subjects were found to be in good condition by Pecos. The subjects
were then taken to the Reeves County Sheriff's Office and turned over to
U. S. Immigration and Naturalization officers.
The four subjects were later identified as illegal immigrants by the names
of Hector Alejandro Cazares, 23, Jose Garcia Santos, 42, Alfredo DeJesus,
20, and Luiz Cazares-Reyes, 25.
INS Public Relations Officer Pablo Caballeros was unavailable for comment
at press time.
Though Pecos only found four illegal immigrants, the U.S. Coast Guard
found 26 dehydrated people including women and children on South Padre Island
After being given water the people were reported to be in good condition.
As of Sunday night U.S. Border Patrol was still interviewing the people
to determine whether they were illegal immigrants.
Lt. j.g. Charles Cook of the Coast Guard said he and another pilot were
on a routine helicopter patrol when they spotted the people.
"There was no shelter really," Cook said.
He said temperatures were probably well over 100 degrees on the ground.
"Initially we thought there were only four or five. Then we saw 10. Then
the number just kept going," Cook said.
The crew radioed Coast Guard units and the U.S. Border Patrol. The ground
crews brought water. Cook said it took about an hour to reach the site by
four-wheel drive vehicle.
"Once they got some water in them, they seemed like they were in pretty
good condition," Cook said. He said the ground crews had to ask for more
water from the helicopter.
The people, many of them appearing to be between the ages of 13 and 40,
were found about 40 miles from the Mexican border along the South Padre Island
National Seashore. Cook described the area as desolate.
He said they didn't know how long the people had been there.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
PECOS, Monday, June 17, 2002 -- San Diego Padres Scout Gerald Fernandez
will hold a baseball camp on Thursday and Friday at the High School baseball
The camp will run from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.and the cost is $35. Kids
age 11 to 15 are invited.
For information contact John R. Salcido (915)447-9683 home, (915)445-3800